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Full text of "Astronomy with the naked eye; a new geography of the heavens, with descriptions and charts of constellations, stars, and planets"

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This book is DUE on the la?t date <r<>TiDrd V -w 
















Copyright, 1908, by HARPKR & BROTHERS. 

All rights rtiervtd. 

Published April, 1908. 

MrtK & 






DECEMBER 23, 1907 




^1^ " I * n . dm * rks ~ Effec t of going north or south on the ap- 
pearance of the heavens Personal influence of the stars View- 
ing the constellations amid historic scenes Cassiopeia seen from 
aytemnestra's tomb-The celestial pageant from Mount Etna 
The stars announce the seasons-Atmospheric influence on 
the appearance of the stars-Individuality of the stars Star 
magmtudes-Star colors-The charm of star groupings-Th^ 
hannonv of the <T>h,.r,.< H,,.., ._.-_ . 


efinition of the meridian The double revolution of the heavens 

-Aunga, the charioteer-Capella and its history-Camelopar- 

.s-Taurus, the Bull-Aldebaran-The Hyades-The Plda- 

Worship of and superstition about the Pleiades Orion 

toe most brilliant constellation Betelgeusc-Rigel-The Belt 

Stars-Bellatrix-The Great Nebula-Story of Orion Tek- 

jcopic nches-Eridanus-Great length of the constellation - 

story-Telescopic stars-Lepus, the Hare-Its conspicuous 

srtuation-Its ongm A wonderful red star Columba the 

Page 16 


nis Major, the Greater Dog Sinus Why called the Doe Star 
-Legends and superstitions about Sirius Its strange com- 


panion Monoceros Canis Minor Procyon Gemini, the] 
Twins, the fourth constellation of the zodiac Castor and 
Pollux Their history Why called the sailors' stars 
Lynx Page 4 a 


Cancer, the Crab, the fifth constellation of the zodiac The Man- 
ger, or Praesepe Ancient importance as a weather sign Ga- 
lileo's discovery Planetary conjunctions in Cancer Hydra, 
one of the largest of the constellations Superstitions concern- 
ing it Page 57 


Leo, the Lion, sixth of the zodiacal set The figure of the Sickle 
The famous star Regulus This constellation always repre- 
sented as a lion Leo Minor Ursa Major, the Greater Bear 
The celebrated figure of the Great Dipper Its various names 
The names of its seven stars Mizar and Alcor Sextans 
Crater, the Cup Page 65 


Corvus, the Crow Virgo, the seventh constellation of the zodiac 
The beautiful Spica A mine of myths The field of the Neb- 
uUe Coma Berenices The legend of a queen's hair Lilac 
stars Canes Venatici, the Hunting Dogs The beautiful Cot 
Caroli Page ; 


Libra, the Balance, eighth in the zodiacal circle A green star- 
Bootes, the great constellation of the north Arcturus and its 


greatjame Corona Borealis-Beautiful form of the constella- 

! Thn .IP i thC C !? wn ~ Ursa Minor - the polar constella- 
Uon-The star Polaris-Draco, the great dragon of the north- 
Alpha Draconis, formerly the pole star-Relation of the Great 
Pyramid to th,s star-History of Gamma Draconis . Page 8 7 


inth zodiacal constellation -Conspicuous figure of the 
-The great red star Antares-Its wonderful croon 

-.n^uH.u^-OphiuchuV^nd^pe^^^.r^^nsS 1 

turn toward, which the earth is tmvelling-Mystic ^ signTficanco 

istellation in ancient times Pag c Ioa 


fVhM%l e w rCher> tCnth *tion of the zodiac-Beauty 
of the Milky Way m Sagittarius-Scutum Sobicskii and itTsUr 

" Uia E ~ " 

Ie7 d U f a ' l E ^~^ " Altair-Thc curious Ch 
legend of the Spinning Damsel and the Magpie Bridgc- 

w'h ' a n P ^ f O ^ h ^~^^^r s^endor of^he 
When it will be the pole star again . . Page 1 12 



, n, f thc "x** 1 circle-The Gate 

7? Ph , inUS 'T thC DoI P hi "-The fable of Arion- 
-Vulpecula-Lord Rossc's wonderful Dumb-bell 



Aquarius the Water-bearer, the last in the zodiacal 
Austrahs, the Southern Fish-The star 



the Winged Horse The Great Square of Pegasus Legends of 
the Winged Horse Lacerta Cepheus, the King The Royal 
Family of the sky Page 130 


Pisces, the Fishes, leader of the zodiac The Greenwich of the 
sky Planetary conjunctions in Pisces Andromeda, the con- 
stellation of romance The great Andromeda nebula Story of 
Andromeda and her rescuer, Perseus Cassiopeia, the Queen 
The "W," or Key Tycho Brahe's star . . . Page 138 


Aries, the Ram, leader of the zodiacal signs Antiquity of the 
constellation Triangulum Perseus, the conqueror of the Gor- 
gon The Gorgon star Alcor The new star of 1901 Cetus, 
the Whale The wonderful variable Mira . . . Page 148 


Argo Navis The great star Canopus The South Pole The 
Southern Cross Centaurus Alpha Centauri, the nearest star 
Ara, the Altar The Triangle Grus and Toucan The Phce- 
nix The Southern Eridanus The star Achernar The Magel- 
lanic clouds Page 158 


Ancient ideas of the Milky Way The pathway of the gods and 
of spirits The story of Phaeton The Milky Way figured as a 
river Course of the Milky Way through the sky Great stars 
that follow the Milky Way The Coal Sack Mythology of the 

ay Page 171 





Its appearance and the seasons when best seen Traced across 
the whole sky Du Chaillu's description Humboldfs descrip- 
tion Scientific theories of the Zodiacal Light Page 182 


How they differ in appearance from stars Their motions Five 
nly known to the ancients Superstitions about them The 
first discoveries Mercury. Venus. Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn; 
their peculiarities, their sizes, distances, movements, rotations, 
surface characteristics, and their condition from the point of 
view of habitability . p agc , 86 


Fascination exercised by the moon The strange spots on her 
surface Stories of the Man in the Moon Stories of the Woman 
in the Moon The Hare in the Moon Galileo's discoveries- 
Nature of the lunar surface The birth of the moon from the 
earth The question of habitability Eclipses, their scientific 
importance, their popular interest, and the superstitions asso- 
ciated with them Earthlight on the moon The moon and the 
months Occultations by the moon Paae 226 

INDEX Page a 43 


CHART I Facing page 1 6 

CHART II " " 43 

CHART III " " 58 

CHART IV " " 66 

CHART V " " 78 

CHART VI " " 88 

CHART VII " " 102 

CHART VIII " " ua 

CHART IX " " 122 

CHART X " " 130 

CHART XI " " 138 

CHART XII " " 148 

CHART XIII " " 158 

CHART XIV. " " 226 


/ 8847 

T^HE specific things undertaken in this book are: 
1 First, the presentation of a set of star-charts, ac- 
companying and illustrating the text, and containing 
the constellation figures, so that the reader may see 
those strange forms that the imaginations of men 
for thousands of years have drawn in the sky. The 
charts also contain all the stars that have received 
distinctive names, and with these all the other stars 
that the unaided eye readily perceives. The sixth- 
magnitude stars are visible to ordinarily good eyes, 
but they are inconspicuous. The charts are reduc- 
tions from Heis's Atlas Ctclestis. 

A chart of the southern sky has been added to 
cover the constellations not visible from our latitudes. 

Second, the march of the constellations across the 
sky, resulting from the annual revolution of the earth 
in its orbit, is followed from month to month, and 
they are presented in the text according to the times 
of their successive arrivals near the meridian, the 
north and south line of the sky. Of course they are 
not visible only when on or near the meridian; but 
some system must be followed in describing them, 
and this arrangement, recognizing the sequence of the 
months, and presenting them when, upon the whole, 
they are best placed for observation, seemed prefer- 


able to any other. The appearance of the constella- 
tions, as viewed with the naked eye, is described, 
their histories and mythologies are given, and the 
stories of their chief stars and star groups are detailed. 
For the convenience of those who have telescopes, 
some of the double stars and other interesting tele- 
. scopic objects in each constellation are described 
and their positions indicated. 

Third, the planets are described in a separate 
chapter, with illustrations intended to enable the 
uninitiated reader to follow their paths among the 
stars and to predict their approximate places for 
himself. In consequence of their constant motion, 
the planets cannot be indicated by symbols definitely 
located on the charts like the fixed stars. 

To sum up, the general purpose is to revive and 
cultivate interest in the picturesque and easily un- 
derstood side of astronomy, so that everybody who 
wishes may "feel at home in the starry heavens," 
may share in the great intellectual pleasures which 
an acquaintance with them invariably gives, and may 
understand and enjoy the references to the stars, the 
constellations, and the planets that abound in all 
literatures and in all the periodicals of the day. 


March, 1908. 





" If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how 
would men believe and adore and preserve for many generations 
the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown?" 


THE stars are the true landmarks which are 
never changed. Because of their infinite dis- 
tance they are always at hand, for no shifting of our 
place upon the tiny earth can sensibly alter their 
position. If, when we travel into strange lands, the 
familiar stars vanished and new ones took their place, 
our feeling of remoteness from home would become 
unbearable. We should lose confidence in ourselves. 
It was the friendly stars that first led men round the 
globe. As long as those well-known sentinels shone, 
tranquil and steadfast overhead, they had courage 
to go on and on. If the stars had deserted him, even 
Columbus would have lost heart. Because when we 


cross the equator and travel into the southern hemi- 
sphere some of the constellations do sink permanently 
below the horizon, while unfamiliar ones rise in the 
opposite quarter, a journey in that direction seems 
longer than others. Nothing astonished the early 
navigators more than the unusual aspect of the 
austral firmament, and in particular the splendor of 
the Magellanic clouds and the Southern Cross, which 
seemed to them symbolic of an unknown world. 
The renown that these constellations attained in the 
days of the first circumnavigators still kindles the 

So, in the far north the strange aspect of the noc- 
turnal sky and the displacement of the arctic con- 
stellations agitate the most undaunted spirits as 
much as does the extraordinary character of the 
landscapes. The man who stands upon the pole of 
the earth, as somebody will do some day, will behold 
nothing so fantastically wonderful as the horizontal 
motion of the heavens, carrying the stars in circles 
of perpetual apparition, and swinging the sun and the 
moon round the whole horizon as if suspended by 
invisible chains from the vortex of the world. 

In the experiences and sentiments of individual 
life the stars play a great part. Many a lonely night, 
with all terrestrial friends far away, has been bright- 
ened for me by the fraternal presence of Orion or 
Bootes. Amid the solitude of a hunter's camp, with 
companions absent on a night-long expedition, and 
the watch-fire languishing, it has been an inexpres- 
sible comfort to see through the lofty tops of the 
trees familiar constellations flashing recognition and 


giving assurance of their unfailing nearness. Aratus, 
the Greek singer of the stars, clearly expressed a 
personal experience when he wrote that "from all 
quarters heaven speaks to man." Make the ac- 
quaintance of Polaris, Sirius, Arcturus, Regulus, Vega, 
Spica, Rigel, and they will be always with you on 
your mundane way, never leaving you alone and 
unfriended. He who knows the stars and constel- 
lations carries the map of the world in his head. He 
has a book older than Homer always open before him. 
He is in a gallery of pictures containing the master- 
pieces of the human imagination when the world was 
young and thought untrammelled. 

The mere names of the ancient constellations cap- 
tivate the mind. Who can look unmoved upon 
Andromeda, chained, and Perseus, with diamond 
sword, speeding to her rescue; or upon Orion, lifting 
his starry club to meet the Bull, charging headlong 
down the curve of the zodiac? It is a felicity to 
know Sirius, that great prismatic star that awed the 
ancient land of the Nile at his rising, and in whose- 
honor immense temples, the oldest in the world, were 
erected; or Arcturus, whose power and beauty in- 
spired the poet Job. 

Among the tableaux of memory that I should most 
grieve to lose are views of the picturesque heavens 
disclosed amid remarkable scenes in foreign lands. I 
would instance a vision of Cassiopeia, seen shortly 
before dawn on an August morning through the 
broken roof of the huge vaulted sepulchre at Mycenae, 
called Clytemnestra's tomb. I had ridden through 
a moonlit night from Corinth, over the mountain- 


cms neck of the Peloponnesus, and down to the 
head of the Valley of Argolis, and had arrived at the 
ruins of Agamemnon's capital just as the moon set, 
at the darkest hour of the night. Amid the gloom, 
fighting off the awakened dogs, I set out with my 
guide to explore the half-disinterred city. After we 
had viewed the bat-inhabited interior of the so- 
called Treasury of Atreus by the light of a brush- 
fire, we approached the smaller "beehive tomb" of 
Clytemnestra, near the Gate of the Lions. Stum- 
bling over fallen stones, I found myself in the empty 
chamber where the body of the royal murderess is 
said to have lain three thousand years ago, and, 
glancing upward, was startled at the sight of Cas- 
siopeia, flashing down through the shattered dome 
from her throne of stars. Near her shone her daugh- 
ter Andromeda, and Perseus, the slayer of the Medusa 
and the Sea Dragon. From the underground gloom 
that enveloped us the spectacle was more magnifi- 
cent than I can picture it in words. But its great- 
est power lay in suggestion, for who could help re- 
membering the legend that those starry characters 
had had their birth in this very valley, and had 
founded Mycena?, long anterior to the days of Clyt- 
emnestra and Helen, Agamemnon and Hector ? Cas- 
siopeia had probably found her place in the stars, and 
been recognized there, before Homer's songs were sung. 
To know the constellations is better than to know the 
Iliad and easier. 

Another instance of the exquisite pleasure that 
acquaintance with the constellations is capable of 
adding to the enjoyment of impressive and historic 


scenes recurs with the recollection of a view of the 
starry heavens which I once had from the unob- 
structed summit of Mount Etna, which, having no 
rival within the entire range of vision, puts a circle 
eight hundred miles in circumference under the 
observer's eyes, while lifting him on its lone pinnacle 
into the midst of the sky. Three or four hours after 
midnight, at the time of the Autumnal Equinox, I 
stood on the verge of the great crater, and after a 
shuddering glance at the fiery spiracles of the volca- 
no, deep in its throat, turned to look off. The dark- 
ness over the world below seemed fathomless, except 
where the lights of Catania lay sparkling tremulously, 
as if a living constellation had fallen there and sunk 
to the bottom of the aerial ocean. For an instant I 
quailed at the sight of the smooth, jet-black slopes 
of the cone, gliding, terrifically steep, down into the 
gloom until, like shadows, they vanished; but the 
glory of the surrounding heavens soon blended all 
sensations into that of sublimity alone. 

Beyond the Gulf of Erebus, in the direction of the 
Strait of Messina, where modern guide-books show 
the seats of Scylla and Charybdis, and above the 
dimly visible mountains of Calabria, rose a refulgent 
procession. First, the starry prow of Argo, Jason's 
ship, in which he chased the Golden Fleece; then 
Canis Major, with blinding Sirius in his jaws; then 
Orion, magnificent with his jewels as I had never 
beheld him ; Eridanus, winding in streams of golden 
stars; and Taurus, ablaze with the splendor of the 
Hyades and the Pleiades. Parallel with this train 
of celestial pageants was stretched the lustrous scarf 


of the Galaxy, and from another point on the horizon 
towered the Zodiacal Light, a gleaming portent, with 
Jupiter glowing calm and steady at its apex, as if 
Zeus on Olympus were presiding again over the gods 
and heroes. The whole sky was a pictured scroll of 
Greek mythology, while the land beneath it was 
"more Greek than Greece itself" the land of The- 
ocritus, Amaryllis, Persephone, Lacon, Daphnis, Em- 
pedocles. Yonder, just under the coils of the celes- 
tial Hydra, was the slope where the heedless com- 
panions of Ulysses hunted the oxen of the sun, and 
I knew that when daylight came I should perceive, 
just at the edge of the sea there, the black rocks 
that Polyphemus is said to have hurled after the 
escaping ship of the cunning hero who had blinded 
him. Towards the south, with Jason's ship glitter- 
ing above it, lay ancient Syracuse, with Arethusa's 
magic fountain, and the reedy home of Cyane. 
Southwest, under the star-shod feet of Pegasus, was 
the sacred hill of Enna, and the necromantic lake 
where Aidoneus carried off Persephone to the under- 
world, until Demeter found and rescued her. Thus 
the memories that rose in crowds from the storied 
land hidden below, answering to the emblazoned 
legends written with starry fires overhead, afforded 
an hour of romantic contemplation without a parallel 
in my experience. 

It is no small part of the charm and interest of 
the constellations that they announce and prefigure 
the seasons. Spring,, summer, autumn, and winter 
each has its characteristic stars, which keep step 
with the year. When the early snows whiten the 


hills in December comes, with the jingling of sleigh- 
bells, Orion. Who would not wish to know him as 
he climbs the eastern sky, scintillant with star-gems, 
darting vivid sparks of varied color that affect the 
eye as the bells do the ear? The coruscating land- 
scape and the spangled firmament are in accord. 
Orion, in a listless summer night, when the face of 
the earth is dark and still, and the starlight falls 
without a ripple in the languid air, would be deprived 
of half his splendor. Orion, declining to the west in 
a spring evening when the snows are gone, the trees 
have begun to feel the sap, and the misty atmosphere 
is drowsy with the aroma of the awakening earth, 
is a dethroned monarch. The mighty star fields 
surrounding him are then like the scenes of a theatre 
after pallid dawn steals in upon them. 

But the charm of the heavens does not cease at 
the advent of spring the wand passes to another set 
of constellations. The vernal sky has its own en- 
chantment. As the earth puts on its earliest verdure 
the mild light of Virgo appears in the east, and 
silvery Spica beams in placid rivalry with the gold- 
orange radiance of Arcturus hanging below the great 
handle of the Dipper, between the sheen of Berenice's 
Hair and the linked pearls of the Northern Crown. 
The constellations that rise at the opening of the 
year, instead of the ostentation and magnificence 
displayed in the hiemal sky, possess a quiet beauty 
that harmonizes with the season. When, in an April 
or May night, the sedate Virgin glows amid her well- 
ordered stars, like an abbess surrounded by white- 
veiled nuns, how exquisitely the celestial mood re- 


spends to the brooding planet! No one who has not 
had the experience can imagine, or fully credit, the 
thrill of pleasure that comes to the lover of the stars 
with his earliest glimpse of the constellations that 
announce the morning of the year. It is a joy deeper 
than that felt by the discoverer of the first rhodora 
in the woods. Those constellations are as much a 
part of the season and as prophetic of its delights 
as are the scented air and the pied meadows. 

And with summer arrives yet another empyreal 
pageant as gorgeous as that which then decks the 
teeming surface of the globe. Scorpio, sprawling 
over the horizon, with fire-red Antares flaring on 
his carapace, seems to burn with ardent reflection of 
the torrid sunset. The Crown hangs lambent in the 
zenith, and, festooned across the orient sky, like 
sheets of summer lightning arrested and motionless, 
hangs the Milky Way. Vega, as pure a diamond as 
the sky contains, glows among the silver-gemmed 
strings of the Lyre, while the centaur, Sagittarius, 
lazily draws his arrow to the head and takes his 
never-ending aim, where the Galaxy spreads brightest 
above the southern verge of the sleeping earth. 

Then on comes winter once again, and the snort- 
ing blasts of December are not more characteristic 
of the boreal season than is the return of those con- 
stellations whose distinguishing feature is the keen 
brilliance of their stars, startling and piercing the eye 
with incessant darts. The quality of the sidereal 
radiations is now different. Aldebaran in Taurus is 
red, and so is Antares in Scorpio, but the redness of 
Aldebaran is that of a polished gem, while the redness 


of Antares is the soft color of flame. The cause of 
the difference is no doubt largely atmospheric, and 
allied to that which produces the distinctive textures 
of summer and winter clouds. The mien of Orion 
and his glittering attendants is essentially spectacu- 
lar. The aspect of this assemblage of epauletted 
constellations recalls a fanfare of trumpets. They 
are so showy and restless in their multitudinous 
flickerings, and have such an appearance of carry- 
ing the celestial battlements with a rush, that one 
almost fancies a shout from the sky! 

The individuality, and perhaps I may say the 
personal peculiarities, of the stars, are sources of 
endless pleasure for those who study them. The 
science of stellar photometry divides the stars visible 
to the naked eye into six magnitudes, or orders of 
brightness. But these are arbitrary, and the actual 
gradations are innumerable. Perhaps it would be 
as difficult to find two stars precisely alike as to find 
exact counterparts among the faces in a crowd. 
This is particularly true of the conspicuous stars which 
the eye sees without any effort of looking. No two 
ranked as of the first magnitude are equal, and the 
inequality in some cases is very great. Sirius, the 
indisputable leader of the whole stellar host, is ten 
or twelve times brighter than either Fomalhaut or 
Deneb Cygni, yet both of these are generally called 
first - magnitude stars. In fact, the first - magnitude 
stars, to which dignity the most indulgent estimate 
can admit but twenty in the entire firmament, con- 
stitute a kind of sidereal peerage whose members 
exhibit as much variation in splendor and impres- 

a 9 


siveness as do the princes, dukes, marquises, and 
earls of a terrestrial nobility. Indeed, according to 
the more strict photometry developed in the closing 
decade of the nineteenth century, there are eight 
star magnitudes embraced within the range of the 
naked eye, two grades having been added above the 
old first magnitude. The highest, or brightest, is the 
negative first magnitude. Then comes the zero mag- 
nitude, and below that follow, in order, the former 
first, seco^, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth magni- 
tudes. Between one magnitude and its next neighbor 
the increase, or decrease, of brightness is approxi- 
mately two-and-a-half times (accurately, 2.512) *. e., 
a star of the first magnitude is two-and-a-half times 
as bright as one of the second magnitude, six-and-a- 
quarter times as bright as one of the third mag- 
nitude (2.5 x 2.5 = 6.25), and so on, a sixth-magnitude 
star having only one-one-hundredth as much light 
as a first-magnitude one. Standards of the first 
magnitude are Aldebaran and Altair. The zero mag- 
nitude is two-and-a-half times as bright as the first 
magnitude. Arcturus is a representative of this rank. 
The negative first magnitude, two-and-a-half times 
brighter yet, has but one member, the princely 
Sirius, and he even exceeds the ideal standard of 
his own rank, his .actual magnitude being 1.4. 
The actual brilliance of Sirius exceeds that of a 
standard first-magnitude star about nine times. Next 
to Sirius in brightness is Canopus, in the Southern 
Hemisphere, invisible from most of the United States. 
According to some estimates, Canopus should be 
admitted to the negative first magnitude, but he 


would occupy a place in that order far below 

But it is not only in brightness that the stars 
differ one from another. Their variations in color 
are only less striking. Even those that are called 
white show surprising chromatic variations. Both 
Vega and Sirius are reckoned as white, but the 
former has a distinct tinge of blue and the latter a 
shada of green. Rigel is also a blue-white star, but 
the intermixture of azure is less pronounced than in 
Vega. Procyon is white of a yellowish tinge, Capella 
is creamy white, and Spica silvery. On the other 
hand, Arcturus, Betelgeuse, Aldebaran, and Antares 
are all spoken of as red, or ruddy, yet the first is 
yellowish-red (in some states of the air simply light 
yellow), the second is topaz-hued, the third is a 
light rose, and the fourth is the color of fire. The 
atmosphere has much to do with the color and aspect 
of the stars. Faint stars are best seen near the 
zenith, where their light suffers the least absorption. 
Very bright stars, on the contrary, often seem most 
brilliant when near the horizon, where, although 
they are robbed of half their light, their rays play 
with amazing vivacity, and dart prismatic flashes. 
Prosper Henry pointed out the fact that when a star 
close to the horizon is viewed with a telescope its 
image, instead of being a point, appears in the form 
of a little vertical spectrum, or band of prismatic 
colors, the red, as the least refrangible, being at 
the top. 

Then there is a wonderful charm in the grouping 
of the stars, and this gave rise to the invention of the 

, cm*. 


constellations. In their assemblages they set off and 
heighten one another's attractions. Anybody can 
verify the truth of Xavier de Maistre's remark that 
when one fixes his eyes on a particular star all of its 
neighbors seem to scintillate more vividly, as if to 
divert his attention to them. The shapes of many 
constellations give a geometrical enjoyment to the 
eye. The suggestion of some law of connection 
among their stars also sets the imagination at work. 
The impression thus produced recalls what Hum- 
boldt says of the singular mental influence of the 
forms of such lands as Italy, Sicily, and Greece, and 
of such bodies of water as the Black and Caspian 
seas. The Belt of Orion, with its surprising straight- 
ness and the notable equality of its stars, which 
resemble carefully matched gems set on a bar, pro- 
duces an ineffaceable impression which seems as won- 
derful the hundredth time of viewing as the first. 
Even the most uncultivated minds are affected by 
the air of comradeship which some star groups 
exhibit. Thus the Rev. W. M. Beauchamp relates 
that the Onondaga Indians have a story that the 
Pleiades are a group of merry children who once, 
with shouting and laughter, danced away into the 
sky, and could never find their way back to the earth. 
Scorpio, with its curiously curved lines of stars, arrests 
everybody's attention, and with its look of crawling 
along just on the verge of the horizon, it gives an 
uncanny feeling, for there is hardly another constel- 
lation whose appearance so completely corresponds 
with its name. 

Regarded in their broader relations and contrasts, 


the stars as a whole possess a marvellous harmony 
of effect. It is the true music of the spheres, for who 
shall say that the universally felt influence of the 
star-bedight heavens does not arise from our in- 
stinctive, but as yet uneducated, perception of a con- 
cord which is not of "sweet sounds," but of light and 
color, whose range of vibrations in the ether infinitely 
exceeds that of sonant oscillations in the atmosphere ? 
It has been half-seriously suggested that man may 
some time develop a new aesthetic capacity which will 
enable him to enjoy the choral effects of color, and 
that this lucent harmony, or prismatic music, will 
afford a more exquisite pleasure, and a more com- 
plete expression of the deeper emotions, than is now 
offered by the harmonies of sound, based as they are 
on a smaller range of sensation, and addressed to a 
less perfect and comprehensive sense. The music of 
the spheres is photometric not sonometric, and the 
canticles of the stars are analogous to the wild 
melodies of nature. If we choose to exercise our 
fancy we may imagine that on some planet more 
advanced or more happily situated this noblest form 
of artistic expression has been fully developed, and 
that there the sparkling heavens pour forth a soundless 
music as yet unappreciated by our dull senses. 

Yet, while the declaration of Aratus, that the 
heavens from all quarters speak to man, is universally 
true, there is no doubt that the proportion of man- 
kind acquainted with the starry heavens and listen- 
ing to their voices is smaller to-day than it was two 
thousand years ago. As astronomy has become more 
scientific in its aims and methods, it has drifted almost 


beyond the ken even of educated people. It has be- 
come a science apart, cultivated by a select few, ap- 
pealing occasionally to the sense of wonder in the mul- 
titude by some striking discovery, but upon the whole 
pursuing its way in solitary grandeur along unfamiliar 
paths, and uncomprehended except by experts. 

From the popular point of view this is a great pity. 
As the astronomers, immersed in their technical 
labors, have ceased to dwell upon the beauties and 
wonders of the midnight sky which is visible to every- 
body, the public, lacking an incentive and guidance, 
has lost interest in the heavens. Yet the universe 
is there for everybody to see, and no observatory, 
no instruments, and no mathematics are needed to 
enable any person to enjoy the immensely ennobling 
and uplifting pleasure afforded by the contemplation 
of the stars and constellations that pass every night 
over our heads. It is only necessary to look. 

The object of this book, then, is to recall busy men 
to that branch of astronomy which is within every- 
body's reach, which was once the principal branch, 
and the basis of all, and which becomes only the more 
interesting as the scientific aspects of the subject are 
developed. But with these strictly scientific aspects 
we are here little concerned. Let us get back to 
astronomy as the first star-gazers knew it, and with 
only the aid which they had that of their eyes. 

There is nothing that possesses a more fascinating 
interest, outside the practical concerns of life, than 
the constellations. Yet they have been virtually 
banished from modern celestial charts. There is 
nothing more beautitul in nature, and nothing that 


appeals more powerfully to the imagination, than the 
fifteen or twenty great stars that from time imme- 
morial have borne individual names; yet modern 
books on astronomy seldom take any trouble to 
enable their readers to recognize and know them. 
There is nothing more captivating to thought than 
the planets Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Saturn those 
mysterious worlds that circle with us around the sun ; 
yet, outside a few observatories, who ever watches 
them, who knows even where to look for them? 

It is quite time that an attempt should be made to 
correct so lamentable a state of affairs. I have been 
simply amazed by information which has recently 
come to me of the manner in which astronomy is 
regarded in our institutions of learning. More and 
more it is neglected. The public schools do not 
teach the constellations, do not tell their pupils 
where, or when, they should look for Sirius, or 
Aldebaran, or Arcturus, or at what time they can see 
" Bootes leading his hunting-dogs over the zenith in 
their leash of sidereal fire." To the vast majority, 
to nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thou- 
sand, all these names are mere Greek. The colleges 
and universities teach their students nothing pertain- 
ing to the great universe beyond the earth, except a few 
mathematical formuke, forgotten as soon as learned. 
Possibly this is unavoidable, in view of the constant 
encroachment of the trade-school spirit, but it is not 
irremediable. As long as men have eyes to see and 
minds to think, it needs but a word, a hint, a glance, 
to turn them with rapt and ever increasing attention 
to the wonders overhead. 



The meridian is an imaginary line traversing the sky from 
north to south and passing through the pole of the heavens 
(near the pole-star), and through the zenith, the point exactly 
over the observer's head. When a star crosses the meridian it is 
equidistant from its rising and setting points and is said to 
culminate. At noon the sun is on the meridian. The starry 
sphere (regarding the heavens as the shell of a hollow globe seen 
from the centre) has two apparent revolutions, one diurnal, 
caused by the earth's rotation on its axis, and the other annual, 
caused by the earth's revolution around the sun. In consequence 
of the annual revolution of the heavens the constellations seem 
to advance slowly from the east, new ones appearing above the 
eastern horizon each month, while old ones disappear behind 
the western horizon. Thus those that occupy a place on the 
meridian at any given hour are not the same from month to 
month. In this book the constellations are described in the 
order of their arrival on the meridian month after month, at about 
nine o'clock in the evening, in the middle of the month. Only 
those lying between the north pole and the southern horizon are 
described, as those situated below the pole may usually be better 
seen at another time. 



IF you go out-of-doors at nine o'clock on a clear 
evening in the middle of January you will see 
overhead, and not far from the zenith, if your lati- 

5O 10 CTX 


fl "* 

r *"> " 

'G N* TJ 

290 CT.W 40 


Chart I 


m CT.J 



tude is near that of New York, a brilliant white star, 
of the first magnitude, and of remarkable beauty. 
It is the star celebrated in fable from remote antiquity 
under the name of Capella (a Aurigas). At its great 
elevation, so near the centre of the starry dome, its 
light falls through an atmosphere so steady that it 
shows hardly a twinkle. Once in a while a lazy 
ripple seems to pass on the surface of the atmospheric 
ocean, the star flashes like a tipped mirror, and then 
immediately resumes its quiet beaming. The name 
Capella, as Mr. Allen says in his exhaustive work 
on Star Names and Their Meanings, signifies "the 
little She-goat." It is a curious fact that in many 
widely separated parts of the earth, and in widely 
separated times, Capella has borne this designation. 
Not only the Greeks and the Romans called it the 
Kid, but the ancient Peruvians, who knew nothing 
of European or Asiatic mythology, had a similar 
name for it in their language, Colca, and they con- 
nected it with the affairs of shepherds. For them 
instead of shining overhead it appeared far down in 
the north; but remembering that in the southern 
hemisphere, summer corresponds with our winter, it 
is evident that the time of Capella' s culmination cor- 
responded with the season when the shepherds would 
be watching their flocks. 

Modern research has proved that Capella is a star 
of immense actual magnitude, exceeding our sun in 
brightness, according to Professor Newcomb, about 
one hundred and twenty times. It belongs to that 
very strange class of stars known as spectroscopic 
binaries, which term means that they consist each of 


two stars so close together that no telescope is able 
to separate their disks, although their duplicate nature 
is proved by the periodic splitting of their spectro- 
scopic lines as they revolve swiftly about their com- 
mon centre of gravity. The period of revolution of 
the Capella system is one hundred and four days. 
The principal star almost exactly resembles the sun 
in its spectrum, while the companion resembles Pro- 
cyon, a star further advanced in the order of devel- 

Capella is the leading star of the constellation 
Auriga, the Charioteer, or the Wagoner, which covers 
a large space in the sky, about 40 from east to west 
and 30 from north to south, and contains twenty 
stars from the first to the fifth magnitude inclusive. 
Auriga is a very ancient constellation, its origin being 
lost in antique myths. It has been represented for 
ages under the figure of " a mighty man seated on the 
Milky Way," and carrying a kid on his left arm. 
Capella shines in the heart of the imaginary kid. 
About ten degrees east of Capella is the second- 
magnitude star, Menkalina 08). This star marks the 
right shoulder, or upper part of the right arm, of the 
Charioteer. Menkalina, like Capella, is a spectro- 
scopic binary, but its period is only four days, the 
spectroscopic lines appearing split every alternate 
night. The right foot of the Charioteer rests upon 
the tip of the northern horn of Taurus the Bull, 
the second-magnitude star, El Nath 08 Tauri), being 
shared in common by the two constellations. A 
third - magnitude star, Iota 0), about ten degrees 
northwest of El Nath, shines in the Charioteer's left 


foot. Three fourth - magnitude stars, Epsilon (e), 
Zeta (5"), and Eta (17), which form a little triangle 
a few degrees southwest of Capella, indicate the 
left hand of the Charioteer, which supports the Kid. 
This little starry triangle is a sort of signboard to 
insure the recognition of Capella by beginners. A 
third-magnitude star, Theta (0), about ten degrees 
south of Menkalina, with a fourth and two fifth- 
magnitude stars near it, marks the Charioteer's right 
hand, resting on his right knee, and bearing a long 
upright whipstock, the wind-driven thongs of which 
are represented by a scattered group of half a dozen 
fifth-magnitude stars with a few of the sixth magnitude 
among them. All of these bear the name of the 
Greek letter Psi (-^), with distinguishing numerals. 
The head of the Charioteer bears a fourth-magnitude 
star, Delta (8), with a fifth, Xi (), above it. The 
Milky Way passes across the lower half of Auriga , 
Capella lying on its northern edge. 

The mythological history of Auriga is not very 
clear. Allen, who thinks that the constellation 
originated among the early star-gazers of the Eu- 
phrates valley, mentions a sculpture from Nimroud 
on which the figures of the Charioteer and the Goat 
or Kid are represented almost as they are drawn 
to-day. Sometimes a chariot has also been repre- 
sented here. By the Greeks Auriga was imagined 
to represent Erechtheus, son of Hephasstus and 
Athena, who was fabled to have invented the four- 
horse chariot, and to have been rewarded by Zeus with 
a place in the sky. The Romans followed this idea 
of the Greeks: 



Close by the Kneeling Bull behold 

The Charioteer, who gained by skill of old 

His name and heaven, as first his steeds he drove 

With flying wheels, seen and installed by Jove. 


Dr. Joseph A. Seiss, in his Gospel in the Stars, 
will have it that the Greeks were greatly puzzled 
by the constellation of Auriga, not understanding 
its origin, and that they only preserved here a tra- 
ditional figure which had existed long before their 
time, and which represents the Good Shepherd who 
was to lay down his life for the sheep ; in other words, 
a symbol foretelling the coming of Christ. In the 
zodiac of Dendera there is a representation of Auriga 
which, as Dr. Seiss interprets it, holds a sceptre, the 
upper part showing the head of a lamb and the lower 
part the form of a cross. 

This constellation affords a good field for the opera- 
glass or telescope. The star 14 is a pretty double of 
magnitudes five and seven-and-a-half ; distance apart, 
14"; colors, pale yellow and bluish or greenish. The 
star 4 (also known as 26i6) is a closer double; dis- 
tance, 6" ; magnitudes, five and nine ; colors, pale red 
(although some say green) and light blue. The star 
41 (2 845) is double; magnitudes, five and six; dis- 
tance, 8". The cluster (2 38) is very beautiful with a 
telescope. A number of its stars imitate roughly the 
form of a cross. Several other less brilliant clusters 
are scattered over this part of the constellation. 



Between Auriga and the pole lies the faint, strag- 


gling constellation of Camelopardalis. It has no 
legendary or mythological interest, having been un- 
known to the ancients. It dates only from the 
seventeenth century, when it was first represented 
on a chart by Jacobus Bartschius, the son-in-law of 
the astronomer Kepler, who with poetic fancy saw 
in its stars an image of the camel that bore Rebecca 
on her way to join Isaac. It is always represented in 
the form of a giraffe. It has ten stars of the fifth 
magnitude and two of the fourth. 



South and southwest of Auriga we find Taurus 
the Bull, the third constellation of the zodiac, and 
one of the most brilliant in the heavens on account 
of its two celebrated clusters, the Hyades and the 
Pleiades. The Hyades adorn the head of the huge 
charging bull, who threatens Orion with his long 
horns, while the Pleiades hang on his shoulder, like 
a glittering banderilla. The lucida (the name some- 
times given to the brightest star of a constellation) 
of Taurus is Aldebaran, a first-magnitude star, of 
extraordinary beauty on account of the pale -rose 
tint perceptible in its light. This is situated in the 
right eye of the Bull, and at the top of the eastern 
arm of the capital letter V, which is plainly marked 
out by the stars forming the group called the Hyades. 
This group is one of the most striking figures in the 
starry heavens. With its neighboring cluster of the 
Pleiades it carries us into the very heart of myth- 


ological romance. Nothing can be more beautiful 
than these stars seen high in the mid-heaven on a 
clear, frosty winter's night, in the absence of bright 
moonshine, and when there are no powerful electric 
or other lights near to dim the vision. The gem- 
like rays of Aldebaran are splendidly set off by the 
glitter of the smaller stars, which seem to have been 
arranged by the hand of a bijoutier to enhance the 
splendor of the principal jewel. Besides Aldebaran 
the group contains five stars of the fourth magni- 
tude, two of them almost touching each other in the 
lower arm of the letter; four of the fifth magnitude, 
and half a dozen of the sixth. And all around the 
sky is rich with scattered gems. They have always 
been connected in the popular imagination with the 
weather, and especially with showery or rainy weather, 
the poets calling them the "rainy Hyades," the 
"watery Hyades," and so on. Mr. Allen remarks 
that they are among the few stellar objects mentioned 
by Homer, and Pliny said that they caused storms 
and tempests on both land and sea. This probably 
originated in their rising at the time when stormy 
weather usually begins. 

The letter V just referred to has its three cor- 
ners marked by Aldebaran, Epsilon (e Tauri), and 
Gamma (7 Tauri). Epsilon marks the top of the 
northern branch of the V, and Gamma its point. 
About half-way between Epsilon and Gamma are a 
pair of stars, the larger, of the fourth magnitude, be- 
ing Delta (B Tauri.) Its companion, also sometimes 
called Delta, is of the fifth magnitude, and they form 
an attractive combination. Occupying a similar 


position in the other branch' of the V, between 
Aldebaran and Gamma, are two fourth-magnitude 
stars, much closer together, the Thetas (9}. It re- 
' quires a good eye satisfactorily to separate these 
stars, and there is a fifth-magnitude star near them 
which increases the beauty of the sight. A little 
southeast of Aldebaran the eye catches another small 
pair, of the fifth magnitude, the Sigmas (9). The 
Sigmas are only seven minutes of arc apart, less than 
one-fifth of the apparent diameter of the moon. 

The smaller, fainter, and more compact group of 
; the Pleiades is even more famous. They shine in 
poetry almost as they shine in the sky. Everybody 
knows by heart Tennyson's lines about them in 
" Locksley Hall," as well as the verse of Job in which 
their name is so poetically woven. They are men- 
tioned in the fragments of " Sappho." Sir G. C. Lewis, 
in his Astronomy of the Ancients, says that their 
name evidently comes from the Greek word plem, to 
sail, because their rising was synchronous with the 
opening of the season of navigation in the Greek seas. 
They comprise one star (Alcyone), of the third mag- 
nitude; one (Maia) of the fourth; four (Atlas, Electra, 
Merope, and Taygeta) of the fifth, or near the fifth; 
and one (Celasno) of rather less than the sixth, so 
that only a sharp eye can see it. This is usually 
called the "Lost Pleiad," but that name has also 
been applied to Pleione, another member of the 
group too faint for ordinary vision. There is also a 
double, Asterope, which lies a little below the limit 
of ordinary eyesight. Alcyone, the lucida, is famous 
as the supposed centre of revolution of the starry 


heavens, which the German astronomer Madler im- 
agined that he had detected. Astronomy knows no 
such centre of revolution, if any exists. 

Within recent years marvellous photographs of the 
Pleiades have been made, showing this group of stars 
to be embedded in a wonderful mass of nebulous mat- 
ter, the most singular in aspect of any in the heavens. 

This wonderful nebula, or, rather, mass of inter- 
twisted nebulae, is not visible to the naked eye, and 
but little of it can be seen with telescopes. Yet the 
strange fact exists that every observe*- seems to feel 
that there is something else in the Pleiades besides 
the star rays. It is a kind of glimmer which is not 
starlight or, at least, does not impress the eye as 
starlight, but rather as an indefinite, misty luminos- 
ity forming a background against which the stars ap- 
pear. The descriptive truth of Tennyson's line about 
the Pleiades, when he says that they 

Glitter like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid, 

impresses everybody who has ever seen them. The 
meaning of this intermingling of stars and nebulous 
matter may be that the Pleiades are a group of suns 
in which the formative process is but partially com- 
pleted, a large part of the original chaotic matter 
remaining still uncombined and uncondensed. 

Besides the two great clusters just described, Taurus 
contains a number of notable stars. El Nath or Beta 
(/3) Tauri has already been mentioned as common to 
Taurus and Auriga, since it indicates the place where 
the foot of the latter rests upon the tip of the Bull's 


horn. El Nath is of the second magnitude, and 
appears singularly beautiful when carefully observed, 
on account of its pure whiteness. Many other ap- 
parently white stars are seen to be slightly colored 
when compared with El Nath. About nine degrees 
below El Nath, in the direction of Orion, is a third- 
magnitude star, Zeta () Tauri, marking the tip of 
the southern horn. Between the two horns, and 
in the top of the head, are four or five fourth and 
fifth magnitude stars, and several of the sixth mag- 
nitude, which impart a glimmering beauty to the 
scene, and justify Virgil's epithet of the "golden 
horns" of Taurus. The body of the Bull ends ab- 
ruptly just west of the Pleiades, and the old myth 
which represents Taurus as the bull into which Zeus 
transformed himself in order to carry off Europa, 
swimming with her through the sea, sufficiently ac- 
counts for the invisibility of the hind quarters of the 
animal, which must be supposed immersed in the 
waves. But his breast and forefeet are visible, and 
contain several moderately bright stars, which may 
be found on the chart. 

Taurus contains one star of the first magnitude; 
one of the second; three of the third; ten of the 
fourth; twenty-seven of the fifth; and a crowd of 
the sixth. 

Taurus is rich with myths and legends. The 
identification of this constellation with the bull of 
Europa has already been mentioned. It seems to 
have been regarded as a bull in all of the ancient 
Mediterranean countries, and also in countries far 
distant -from Europe, and the natal lands of Greek 


mythology. The Indians of the Amazon, according 
to some of the early explorers in South America, 
called it the Ox. In Egypt it was identified with 
Osirus, the bull-god, although there is some question 
as to the time when this identification occurred. It 
may have been subsequent to the Greek legend. 
But, at any rate, the constellation always played 
an important part in the Egyptian religious cere- 
monies connected with the zodiac, and there was a 
belief in Egypt that the human race sprang into 
being at a time when the sun was in Taurus. It 
seems also to have been identified by the Egyptians 
with Apis, the bull-god of the Nile, and in this form, 
as Mr. Allen suggests, it may have been known before 
the building of the great pyramids. Among the 
Chinese, when white men first visited them, this 
constellation was known as the White Tiger, but 
after the Jesuit Fathers had introduced occidental 
ideas its name in China became the Golden Ox. The 
idea of "whiteness" in connection with Taurus 
seems to have had a very early origin. This prob- 
ably arose from the legend that Europa's bull was 
snowy white, for the great ruler of Olympus could 
not be expected to turn himself into an ordinary 
brindle beast when he was going to carry on his back 
the beautiful rival of his queen! 

But the myths pertaining to Taurus centre par- 
ticularly around the two groups of the Hyades and 
the Pleiades. I have mentioned above the charm- 
ing legend of the Onondaga Indians concerning the 
Pleiades. This legend brilliantly expresses their po- 
etic attractiveness, but there are many older ones, 


found everywhere in the world, which show that 
the Pleiades have always impressed mankind with 
a sense of mystery. From ancient Egypt and 
Chaldea to the shores of the Northern Ocean; from 
Japan to Australia and the island groups of the 
South Pacific ; from the Great Lakes of North America 
to Mexico and Peru, traces have been found of a 
strange worship of this group of stars. They have 
been connected in a most remarkable manner with 
legends of a deluge, and their cult has often assumed 
the form of a festival of the dead, as among the 
Egyptians. The Spanish conquerors found in Mex- 
ico a tradition that the world was once destroyed 
when the Pleiades culminated at midnight. The 
Japanese Feast of Lanterns has been supposed by 
some to be a survival of an ancient rite relating to 
the Pleiades, and commemorating a vast calamity 
which overwhelmed the race of man at some period 
in the remote past when that group of stars hap- 
pened to occupy a conspicuous position in the sky. 
There seems to be no doubt that one of the mysterious 
passages constructed through the heart of the pyra- 
mid of Cheops was intended to point to the Pleiades 
at the moment when they passed their upper cul- 
mination at the hour of midnight. It has even been 
suggested that the Europa myth, already mentioned, 
may have originated in the tradition of a connection 
between the Pleiades and an apparently universal 
deluge, since it introduces the idea of a flood of 
waters through which the Bull is struggling with 
more than half his body submerged. The Druids 
also had a cult of the Pleiades, or at any rate of the 


constellation Taurus, and, in connection with this, 
Mr. Allen mentions an old Scotch myth concerning 
the Candlemas Bull, which is said to appear at 
twilight, rising in the east and sailing across the sky. 
But the most definite of the Pleiades legends is 
that which connects them with the seven daughters 
of Atlas, the "Atlantic! nymphs." Of these Alcyone 
is the chief, and is sometimes called "the light of the 
Pleiades." Maia was both the eldest and the most 
beautiful of the daughters, although her star is less 
brilliant than that of her great sister. Electra was 
the mother of Dardanos, the founder of Troy, and 
the legend avers that upon the destruction of that 
city she covered her face and has never since shone 
as bright as before. Merope is also said once to have 
faded in shame at the recollection of her having 
married a mortal. But in this she was not singular 
among her immortal sisters. Taygeta was the patron 
goddess of Sparta, since her son Lacedaemon founded 
that redoubtable little state. The other two sisters 
were Celaeno and Asterope, both of whose stars are 
faint, and one of them, as already mentioned, double. 
An eighth member of the group, hardly visible to the 
naked eye, is Pleione. She was the mother of the 
seven sisters and her star may be the true "Lost 
Pleiad" of the legend, rather than either Electra 
or Merope, because modern spectroscopic investiga- 
tion has shown that Pleione bears evidence of a 
temporary character. Atlas, the father, also has his 
star, which shines a little below Pleione, but is 
much brighter. On the accompanying little chart 
the names of the Pleiades will be found. 




Although their history is as old as that of the 
Pleiades, the Hyades have a less extensive mythology. 
They also were supposed to be daughters of Atlas, 
half-sisters of the Pleiades, their mother being ^Ethra. 
They are said to have been the nurses of the infant 
Bacchus, and Zeus rewarded them with a place in 
the sky. Unlike the Pleiades, the names of these 
nymphs were never individually distinguished by 
applying them to particular stars. The entire group 
was simply regarded as being composed of the 
sisters, and the name Aldebaran was formerly applied 
to it as a whole. 

According to Dr. Seiss, the modern exponent of 
religious mysticism among the stars, the constella- 
tion Taurus represents the fabled Unicorn, and the 
Egyptians, although not appreciating the divine 
spirit of prophecy that guided them, called it by 
names signifying "the Head, the Captain, the Mighty 
Chieftain who cometh," the real symbol being that of 
"Christ as the irresistible and Angry Judge." The 
sister stars of the Hyades and Pleiades, according 
to the same authority, "beautifully symbolize the 


saints, securely supported by the terrible Judge, and 
who, together with the holy angels, whom thsy are 
like, thus move with Him and His inflictions upon 
a guilty world." 

Perhaps Dr. Seiss's interpretation has as much 
foundation as the older myths, but certainly it lacks 
their charm. 

In a small telescope Alcyone presents a captivat- 
ing sight, on account of the presence of two minute 
stars forming a little triangle with it. Aldebaran, 
remarkable, as already pointed out, for its pale ruby 
color, has a distant tenth-magnitude companion. Al- 
debaran is one of the standard first-magnitude stars. 
The star Lambda (\) is a rapid variable, changing 
from about the third to about the fourth magnitude 
once in every four days. About one degree north- 
west of the star Zeta () , at the tip of the southern 
horn, is the celebrated "Crab Nebula," which is only 
to be seen with a very powerful telescope. It presents 
an extraordinary appearance when photographed. 



Southeast of Taurus flashes the "Golconda of the 
heavens" the brilliant constellation Orion. The 
celestial equator passes through the centre of this 
constellation, almost touching the northernmost star 
in the Belt. The two great first-magnitude stars, 
Betelgeuse and Rigel the former something over 
ten degrees above, and the latter an equal distance 
below the three stars forming the Belt seem bal- 
anced against each other. Their splendid contrast 


of color, and the dazzling beauty of the stars in the 
Belt, which lie in an almost true straight line, and 
are matched as perfectly in size and tint as selected 
gems, impart to this constellation the appearance of 
a gigantic piece of jewelry. There is nothing else 
in all the sky to equal it in splendor. The famous 
Southern Cross is far inferior to Orion as a celes- 
tial spectacle. The unparalleled magnificence of the 
constellation of Orion lifts the name of a compara- 
tively obscure hero of Grecian mythology to a prom- 
inence before which even Zeus, or Jupiter, and the 
other great Olympian gods and goddesses dwindle to 
relative insignificance. Jove is fabled to have placed 
Orion among the stars as a reward of merit as merit 
was reckoned in those days but surely he could never 
have looked upon the splendid constellation which 
he thus gave away, else he would have reserved it 
to enshrine his own fame. Orion is one of the few 
constellations visible from all parts of the earth. 

Now, near the twins behold Orion rise. 
His arms extended measure half the skies; 
His stride no less. Onward with steady face, 
He treads the boundless realms of starry space; 
On each broad shoulder a bright gem displayed, 
While three obliquely grace his mighty blade. 
On his vast K id three lesser stars are seen, 
Their rays commingled in a silvery sheen, 
So far removed that half their splendor's lost. 
Thus graced and armed he leads the heavenly host. 

- Manilius. 

The traditional figure of Orion is that of a Hercules 
standing with uplifted club to confront the Bull, who 


is charging down upon him from the circle of the 
zodiac. Thrown over his left arm like a shield is a 
lion's hide, represented in the sky by a remarkable 
bending row of small stars. Betelgeuse glitters on 
his right shoulder and Rigel on his left foot. His 
left shoulder is epauletted with the star Bellatrix, 
not so bright as the other two, but still a beauty. 
It is sometimes called the Amazon Star. These three 
are the leaders of the constellation, Betelgeuse being 
honored with the name Alpha (a), while Rigel is 
Beta (/8), and Bellatrix is Gamma (7). Both Rigel 
and Betelgeuse are above the standard first magni- 
tude, and approach the zero magnitude mentioned 
in Chapter I. Rigel is ordinarily the brighter, al- 
though it ranks in nomenclature below its rival. 
Betelgeuse is irregularly variable, and probably the 
first letter of the alphabet was assigned to it at a 
time when it was in one of its brilliant moods. It 
attained a great degree of splendor in 1894. Since 
then it has been fainter than Rigel, but now (1908) 
it is brighter. In 1852 it was so brilliant that it was 
reckoned the brightest star north of the equator, 
brighter than either Capella, Vega, or Arcturus. Its 
color is remarkable, a rich topaz hue, especially when 
viewed with a glass. The color appears to vary with 
the brightness, the tone becoming deeper as the star 
grows fainter. This would indicate that it is enter- 
ing upon the earlier stages of extinction. At present 
it must be a sun of prodigious splendor. It is so 
distant that its parallax has not been certainly ascer- 
tained, and from this it follows that it exceeds our 
sun in intrinsic brilliance probably thousands of times, 


because the sun at its distance would be invisible. 
The name Betelgeuse is derived from the Arabic, 
and means "The Armpit of the Central One." 

Rigel, which generally appears a little brighter than 
Betelgeuse, is an equally distant and equally great 
sun, possessing, according to Professor Newcomb, 
possibly ten thousand times the intrinsic brightness 
of our sun. Its color is invariably brilliant white with 
a tinge of blue, the color of a diamond of the first 
quality. If Betelgeuse is a sun falling into decrepi- 
tude Rigel is one enjoying the heyday of solar youth. 

Bellatrix is of the standard second magnitude and 
of a yellowish color. It is often called Mirzam, a 
name, as we shall see, applied to one or two other 
stars. Even Betelgeuse was sometimes called Mirzam 
by the Arabs, the word meaning Announcer or Herald. 

The three stars in the Belt, which is about three 
degrees in length, and which adds so strikingly to 
the picturesqueness of the constellation, are named, 
respectively, beginning with the northernmost, Min- 
taka, Alnilam, and Alnita. Their Greek letter desig- 
nations, in the same order, are Delta (8), Epsilon (e), 
and Zeta (). The first two are white, the third 
slightly yellowish. In the right knee is a star of 
near the third magnitude called Saiph, or Eta (77). 
Saiph, Rigel, Bellatrix, and Betelgeuse mark the 
corners of an irregular parallelogram, about eighteen 
degrees in its greatest length, and having the Belt 
in its centre. 

Below the Belt hangs the Sword made conspicuous 
by a short row of stars of the fourth and fifth mag- 
nitudes, the lowermost of which, Iota (t), is rather 


brighter than fourth magnitude. The middle star, 
Theta (0), is involved in misty light. This light 
comes from the celebrated Great Nebula of Orion, 
one of the most astonishing objects in the firmament 
of heaven. A good opera-glass shows this nebula, 
and in a telescope its appearance is wonderful beyond 
description. A third-magnitude star, Eta (77), below 
Mintaka, and making a right angle with the line of 
the Belt, indicates the handle of the Sword. 

The Head of Orion is represented by a group of 
stars, somewhat crowded in appearance, the principal 
member of which is Lambda (X), of the third magni- 
tude. The Arabs called the head of Orion Al Hakah, 
meaning a White Spot. Its glimmering aspect may 
be thought to justify this designation. Mr. Jules A. 
Colas has called attention to the curious fact that 
the full moon could be inserted in the little triangle 
of stars constituting the head of Orion. This is an 
instructive example of the exaggerated impression 
of size that the moon makes upon the eyes of persons 
unaccustomed to astronomical observation, for few 
could be found willing to believe that its disk would 
not cover a far greater space. The uplifted Club of 
Orion, and his right hand which holds it, contain 
five fifth - magnitude stars and several of the sixth 
magnitude. The upper end of the Club is almost on 
a level with the point of the southern horn of Taurus. 

The Lion's Hide which Orion bears on his left arm, 
like a shield, contains four stars of the fourth magni- 
tude, two of the fifth, and about ten of the sixth, 
which impart to it a curious glimmer. 

Orion contains altogether two stars of the first 


magnitude (really brighter than first magnitude) ; 
four of the second; four of the third; three of the 
fourth ; twenty-four of the fifth ; and a great number 
of the sixth. According to Burritt, there are seventy- 
eight stars visible to the unaided vision, but most 
eyes do not distinctly discern so many. An opera- 
glass reveals many hundreds. 

As already indicated, Orion is of great mythological 
fame. A far more brilliant constellation has been 
assigned to him than to the great hero Herakles, 
or Hercules, yet he plays comparatively an incon- 
spicuous and uncertain part in the old myths. He 
is generally regarded as a mighty hunter of gigantic 
stature, so tall that he could wade the sea. Some 
say he was the son of the Amazonian queen Euryale 
and Neptune, and boasted that the mightiest beasts 
of the earth could not successfully strive with him. 
Then a scorpion bit him, and when he died of the 
wound the gods placed him among the stars. Ac- 
cording to another story, he was born, like Athena, 
without a mother, and became so famous as a worker 
in iron that Vulcan employed him to build a palace 
under the sea. Still another legend avers that he 
offered violence to the daughter of (Enopion, King 
of Chios, who thereupon put out his eyes when he 
was asleep. But Vulcan, remembering his services, 
sent him a guide to lead him to a place where he 
could confront the rising sun, and its rays restored 
his sight. According to some, Orion had one of his 
own forgemen carry him on his back to meet the sun. 
It is also said that Diana fell in love with him, thereby 
arousing the jealousy of Apollo, who persuaded the 


goddess to a trial of skill at archer)-. Diana aimed 
a shaft at an object in the sea and pierced it. It 
was the head of Orion, who was amusing himself by 
wading far from shore. Having killed him with her 
arrow, Diana had him transported to the heavens, 
and made him outshine all his rivals there. We may 
smile at these legends, yet as products of the human 
imagination they cannot but interest us when we see 
them perpetuated among the stars. But for his 
constellation Orion would never have been remem- 
bered; now he has a monument more lasting than 
the pyramids. 

Among the Arabs the constellation Orion was 
known as Al Jauzah, a term of uncertain significa- 
tion. The translation "Giant," Mr. Allen thinks, 
is incorrect. The Egyptians said that the soul of 
Osiris rested in Orion. Among the Jews, Orion was 
the great hunter Nimrod. The ancient Hindoos 
said that he abased his own daughter, the rosy 
Aldebaran, whereupon Sirius transfixed him with 
an arrow, represented by the three stars of the Belt. 
In English popular lore the Belt is called the "Yard 
and Ell." The Chinese knew Orion under the name 
of Shen. For Dr. Seiss, and his Gospel in the Stars, 
Orion stands as a prophetic representation of the great 
"enemy and destroyer of death," and all the ancient 
myths are rehandled to accord with this interpretation. 

In telescopic objects Orion is wonderfully rich. Most 
famous of its double stars is Rigel. The companion 
may be seen with a three-inch telescope. Its dis- 
tance is 9.5"; color, deep blue; magnitude, eight - 
a most beautiful object. Alnita () in the Belt is 


triple; magnitudes, second, sixth, and tenth; dis- 
tances, 2.5" and 56"; colors, yellowish white, grayish 
purple, pale blue. Delta (8) in the Belt is double; 
magnitudes, second and seventh; distance, 53"; 
colors, white and greenish white. Sigma (9) is 
multiple, the telescope showing eight or ten stars 
varying from the fourth to the tenth or eleventh 
magnitudes, and exhibiting divers tints, one star of 
the seventh magnitude being described as "grape- 
red." Theta (0) in the Sword is quadruple, and the 
telescope shows it surrounded with the Great Nebula, 
a true wonder-cloud which can be very well seen with 
a three -inch telescope. Lambda in the Head is 
double; magnitudes, three-and-a-half and sixth; dis- 
tance 4" ; colors, light yellow and reddish. Orion also 
contains many doubles which are not visible, or not 
easily visible, as single stars to the naked eye. The 
whole constellation is enveloped in a gigantic nebula, 
traces of which may be seen with powerful telescopes, 
but which only reveals itself in its entirety in long- 
posed photographs. 



Directly west of Rigel, the starry river, Eridanus, 
takes its rise. It goes winding far westward, under 
Taurus, and finally, after meeting Cetus, the Whale, 
turns abruptly southward. Then making a long 
reach back eastward, it arrives almost under its 
starting-point, and at last drops beneath the horizon 
of northern middle latitudes. As soon as the eye 
has once traced out the "river," its resemblance to 
a stream becomes quite striking. The entire length 
of this river of stars is no less than a hundred and 


thirty degrees. It is sometimes divided, for con- 
venience of reference, into two streams, or reaches, 
the northern stream reaching westward from Orion 
to Cetus, and the southern stream, which, as already 
remarked, runs back nearly to the longitude of the 
source. Many of the stars of Eridanus are strik- 
ingly arranged in pairs. Far down in the southern 
hemisphere, invisible from latitudes north of 32, 
Eridanus possesses a splendid star of the first magni- 
tude named Achernar. But for us of the northern 
hemisphere its brightest star is Cursa, or Beta (), 
some three degrees northwest of Rigel in Orion. 
The name Cursa, Mr. Allen explains, comes from an 
Arabic word signifying the footstool, this star being 
regarded as a support for the left foot of Orion, on 
which Rigel blazes like a gem-set shoe-buckle. The 
star Gamma, also called Zaurak, seems to have been 
connected with the idea of a boat afloat in the stream. 
Cursa is rather above the third and Zaurak a little 
below that magnitude. The other stars in the 
northern stream specially worthy of note are Nu (v) t 
the pair of the Omicrons (o), Delta (S), and Epsilon 
(e), which are near together, Zeta (), and Eta (17). 
Nearly three hundred naked-eye stars have been 
catalogued in Eridanus, but the ordinary star-gazer 
will not notice more than thirty or forty. 

The scorched waters of Eridanus, tear-swollen flood 
Welling beneath the left foot of Orion. 


These lines of the old Greek poet indicate the 
connection which some of the ancients made between 


Eridanus and the story of Phaeton, the ambitious 
son of Phoebus, who persuaded his father to allow 
him to drive for one day the Chariot of the Sun, and 
whose wild ride nearly resulted in the burning up of 
the earth, when his coursers, feeling a feebler hand 
on the reins, took the bits in their teeth and ran away 
with the Sun, leaving the track of Zodiac, and dash- 
ing so close to the earth that it began to smoke. 
Order was restored by Jove, who smote the presump- 
tuous youth with a thunderbolt and precipitated him 
into the river Eridanus, whose nymphs " swelled the 
flood with their tears," shed in mourning over the 
fate of their unhappy favorite. This story has been 
thought to contain the fading memory of some season 
of terrible drought, that brought famine and disaster 
to the Mediterranean lands. Jove is said to have 
turned the weeping nymphs into poplars, the tree 
now so abundant in the valley of the Po (Eridanus), 
and Ovid has commemorated their grief in these lines : 

" All the long night their mournful watch they keep, 
. And all the day stand round the tomb and weep." 

Dr. Seiss says Eridanus is the " River of the Judge," 
and refers to Daniel's vision of the four beasts that 
were cast into a fiery stream. 

The star 32 Eridani is a superb double; magnitudes, 
fifth and seventh; distance, 6.7"; colors, topaz and 
ultra -marine. The lower of the Omicrons (o 2 ) is 
triple; magnitudes, fourth, tenth, and eleventh; dis- 
tances, 82" and 2.6". A powerful telescope is re- 
quired for this object. The star 1 2 Eridani is a close 
binary; magnitudes, fourth and eighth; distance, 2". 


Below Orion's feet the Hare 

Is chased eternally; behind him 

Sirius ever speeds as in pursuit, 

And rises after, and eyes him as he sets. 


The eye is led to Lepus by the conspicuous aspect 
of its little quadrangles and triangles of stars lying 
just south of Orion. It contains two stars of the 
third magnitude, Alpha (a) and Beta (/3) ; six of the 
fourth, Mu (/*), Epsilon (e), Gamma (y), Delta (8), 
Zeta (), and Eta (17); and ten of the fifth. Mu is 
situated in the eye of the animal, and Eta in the tail. 
Three fifth and one sixth magnitude stars, forming 
a little quadrangle, mark the ears, lying just below 

The lines already quoted from Aratus tell the 
mythological story of Lepus. The hare has always 
been a favorite victim of the hunter's skill, and it 
seems to have been no less a favorite with Orion. 
The Great Dog, Sirius, is Orion's hound chasing the 
Hare. In Dr. Seiss's gospel mythology Lepus is 
interpreted as typifying the overthrow of the enemy 
of mankind, and he remarks that in Persian and 
Egyptian zodiacs the figure represented is that of 
a serpent trodden under the feet of Orion. 

The star R Leporis is very remarkable for its intense 
crimson color, which has been compared with that 
of a drop of blood. It is variable, and the color is 
deepest when the star is faintest. The star Kappa 
(K) is double ; magnitudes, fifth and eighth ; distance, 


2,5"; colors, pale yellow and blue. The star Iota (t) 
shows in the telescope a beautiful tinge of green, 
which is comparatively a rare color among the stars. 
It has an eleventh -magnitude companion, distant 
about 13". 


The constellation of Columba, the Dove, south of 
Lepus, has one star, Alpha (a), or Phaet, of the second 
magnitude, one, Beta (/3), of the third, and two, 
Epsilon (e) and Gamma (7), of the fourth. It is 
said to represent the Dove that Noah sent forth 
from the ark. The constellation appears to have 
first been named in the sixteenth century. Norman 
Lockyer, in his Dawn of Astronomy, avers that 
Phaet was particularly worshipped among the ancient 
Egyptians, no less than a dozen temples having been 
oriented to this star. Mr. Allen records the curious 
fact that the Chinese call Phaet Chang Jin, the "Old 



Cants Major 


TOOK directly towards the south at nine o'clock 
L in the evening in the middle of February, and you 
will see the brightest of all stars Sirius, the Dog 
Star. It is situated about sixteen and a half degrees 
south of the celestial equator, and is the leader of 
the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog. 

... In his fell jaw 

Flames a star above all others with searing beams 
Fiercely burning, called by mortals Sirius. 


The name of this magnificent star has been de- 
rived by some from the Greek word setpo? ("spar- 
kling" or "scorching"; by others from the Egyptian 
Osiris; by Dupuis from the Celtic word Syr. All 
readers of the Iliad will recall the passage in which 
Achilles is likened to this star as he rushes across 
the plain of Troy to encounter Hector at the gates: 

" Him the old man Priam first beheld, as he sped across the 
plain, blazing as the star that cometh forth at harvest time, 

-n*, 6- 67. 

Chart II 


* * 


and plain seen his rays shine forth amid the host of stars in 
the darkness of the night, the star whose name men call 
Orion's Dog." Iliad, bk. xxii. (Lang and Leaf's Translation). 

It is impossible to be guilty of exaggeration in 
speaking of the splendid beauty of Sirius. Its ra- 
diance is as indescribable as that of a great diamond- 
As remarked in the introductory chapter, it stands 
in a class by itself as far as magnitude is concerned. 
It has a hundred moods, according to the state of 
the atmosphere. Sometimes, when the air is still, 
the star burns with a steady white light, unflickering, 
like a core of electric fire; then, as invisible atmos- 
pheric waves flow over it, its rays spread and leap 
and flutter, breaking into keen prismatic darts that 
almost cause the eye to wince. By turns it flames, 
it sparkles, it glows, it blazes, it flares, it flashes, it 
contracts to a point of intensest brilliance or ex- 
pands into a coruscating spectrum. There is some 
evidence for thinking that two thousand years ago 
its prevailing hue may have been red. From its 
cross -motion in space it has been calculated that six 
hundred centuries ago it was on the eastern border 
of the Milky Way; now it is on the western border. 

" Since Sirius crossed the Milky Way 

Full sixty thousand years have gone, 
Yet hour by hour and day by day 
This tireless star speeds on and on. 

" Methinks he must be moved to mirth 

By that droll tale of Genesis, 
Which says Creation had its birth 
For such a tiny world as this; 


To hear that One who fashioned all 
Those solar systems tier on tiers, 

Expressed in little Adam's fall 
The purpose of a million spheres! 

On planets old, ere form or place 

Was lent to earth, may dwell, who knows? 

A godlike and perfected race 

That hails great Sirius as he goes. 

E. W. Wilcox. 

But splendid beyond comparison as he appears to 
our eyes, Sirius is now known not to be, by any 
means, the greatest sun in space. He owes his ap- 
parent primacy to his relative nearness. His dis- 
tance is only a little over eight light-years (a light-year 
is the distance that a wave of light travels in a twelve- 
month), or, say, forty-seven trillions of miles, and his 
intrinsic brilliance exceeds that of the sun only thirty 
times, while such stars as Rigel and Betelgeuse may 
be thousands of times brighter than the sun. Sir 
G. C. Lewis remarks that the time of Sirius 's rising 
with the sun was connected at an early period, with 
the idea of intense summer heat, and Muller con- 
jectures that it was called the Dog Star on account 
of the prevalence of canine madness at that season. 
Some think that Sirius is identical with the Maz- 
zaroth of the book of Job. Its midnight culmina- 
tion, or passing of the meridian, was celebrated in 
the Eleusinian Mysteries. Four hundred years be- 
fore the Christian era Sirius rose just before the sun 
at the hottest season of the year, whence the dies 
canicularia, or "dog days," of the Romans. 

The spectrum of Sirius is typical of a class known 



as (he Sirian stars, which include, perhaps, half of 
all that are visible, and which are characterized by 
a brilliant white color and broad absorption bands, 
indicating the presence of enormous quantities of 
hydrogen. They are believed to represent a rela- 
tively early stage of solar evolution, so that Sirius 
is to be regarded as a youthful giant among the suns. 

After the princely splendor of Sirius, the other 
stars of Canis Major seem insignificant, and yet the 
constellation when well above the horizon presents 
A striking appearance. Sirius is in the jaw of the 
imaginary dog. The second star of the constellation, 
Beta (/3), or Mirzam, of near the second magnitude, 
is in one of the uplifted paws, towards Lepus. Delta 
(8), also called Wezen, and Epsilon (e), also called 
Adara, are in the right flank, the dog standing nearly 
upright on its hind legs. These stars are of the full 
second magnitude and brighter than Mirzam. Zeta 
(5"), or Furud, in the right hind paw, is of the third 
magnitude, as is Eta (77), or Aludra, in the tail. The 
last-named star is, however, rather the brighter of 
the two. There are seven stars of the fourth magni- 
tude and fourteen of the fifth, besides many of the 
sixth. A comparatively empty space separates Sirius 
with its group of attendants from the more southern 
stars of the constellation, so that the latter seem 
almost to form a constellation by themselves. 

Just east and northeast of the tail of the Dog is 
a group of fourth and fifth magnitude stars which 
mark the prow of Jason's Ship in the constellation 
Argo. But the larger part of this constellation lies 
too far, south to be seen from the mean latitude of 


the United States. It will be described in the chapter 
on the southern stars. Its principal star, Canopus, 
ranks next to Sirius in brightness, and can be seen 
from the extreme southern parts of the United States. 
It is almost directly south of Sirius, at a distance 
of about 35. 

The mythological history of Canis Major, as already 
indicated, is intimately related to that of Orion. 
But the constellation, or at least its principal star, 
seems to have been associated with the idea of a 
dog among ancient nations unacquainted with the 
myth of Orion. Thus among the Scandinavians it 
was regarded as the dog of Sigurd. In ancient India 
it was called the Deerslayer. Some of the early 
Greek myths represented it as the hound of Actaeon, 
and also as one of Diana's hunting dogs. Mr. Allen 
mentions the curious facts that an ivory disk, found 
by Schliemann in his excavations on the site of Troy, 
contains a representation of a dog believed to be 
Canis Major, and that an ancient Etruscan figured 
mirror shows this constellation, together with Orion 
and Lepus, with the neighboring stars correctly 
located. Those who find a prophecy of the coming 
of the reign of Christ in the constellations have made 
much of Canis Major. Novidius called it the Dog 
of Tobias. Dr. Seiss claims that it represents the 
Messiah himself, "the Appointed Prince." He has 
a curious passage in which he derives the name Sirius 
from the word Seir, meaning " Prince," or " Guardian," 
and then connects this with "Naz-Seir," found in 
an Egyptian zodiac. Thus he arrives at the word 
" Naz-seir-ene," whence "Nazarene," and lo! an ex- 


planation of the much-discussed origin of the prophecy 
that Christ should be called a Nazarene! 

In Egypt the Dog was regarded as the celestial fore- 
runner of the annual flood in the Nile, announcing 
the coming of the waters by rising just before the 
sun. Mr. Lockyer has found seven Egyptian temples 
which were so oriented as to receive upon their 
altars the rays of Sirius rising. In the famous zodiac 
of Dendera, Canis Major appears in the form of a 
cow carried in a boat. It was also represented as the 
goddess So this, and bore likewise the names of Isis, 
Osiris, and Thoth. As the " Nile star," Sirius was wor- 
shipped under the name of Sihor. Its supposed influ- 
ence in causing the annual flooding of the river is indi- 
cated in the zodiac of Dendera by overflowing urns. 

Sirius is a famous double star. The companion, of 
the ninth magnitude, revolves around Sirius in a 
period of about forty-nine years. The apparent dis- 
tance, therefore, varies. In 1890 the two stars were so 
close that no telescope could separate them. In 1896 
Burnham, then at the Lick Observatory, caught sight 
of the companion emerging from the overpowering 
rays of its primary, and since then the distance has 
been slowly increasing. In 1905 it had become 
about 6". A very singular fact is that this com- 
panion, although ten thousand times less bright than 
Sirius, is nearly half as massive as its great neighbor! 
The star Mu (/*) is double; magnitudes, fifth and 
eighth; distance, 2". 8; colors, white and pale blue. 
About four degrees south of Sirius is the star cluster 
1454, which presents a beautiful view in the telescope, 
having a red star neai* the centre, and curving rows 
of minute stars about it. 




North of Canis Major and the prow of Argo lies 
Monoceros, the Unicorn, an inconspicuous constella- 
tion covering a space 40 long from east to west. It 
has but four stars as bright as the fourth magni- 
tude, and these are scattered. In addition there are 
thirteen of the fifth magnitude, five of which appear 
in the head, which faces Orion, with the horn nearly 
touching his c'ub. The stars of this constellation 
have not even enjoyed the honor of having the letters 
of the Greek alphabet applied to them, much less of 
being designated by special names. They are only 
indicated by numerals. It is a modern constellation, 
and has no mythological history. It is interesting 
for those possessing telescopes on account of its many 
small clusters of stars, and for one beautiful triple, 
the star u, whose magnitudes are fifth, sixth, and 
seventh; distances, 7". 4 and 2". 7. The star 8 is 
double; magnitudes, fifth and seventh; distance, 
14"; colors, golden yellow and lilac. A little north- 
east of 8 the eye catches a faint glimmering point 
which is expanded by a telescope into a beautiful 
cluster, No. 1424. 

Cards Minor 


Above Monoceros shines Canis Minor, the Lesser 
Dog, two of whose stars are conspicuous, the large, 
beautiful, first-magnitude brilliant Procyon, and its 


attendant, some five degrees northwest, Beta (/3), 
or Gomeisa, of the third magnitude. Gomeisa has 
near it two fifth-magnitude stars. Canis Minor is 
only about fifteen degrees in its greatest length, and 
contains only three fifth-magnitude stars in addition 
to those already mentioned. It owes its fame en- 
tirely to Procyon, one of the most interesting stars 
in the heavens. Its comparatively lone situation 
emphasizes its brightness, and it is rather nearer the 
Zero than the First Magnitude. Yet its light always 
impresses me as lacking the brilliance that one ex- 
pects from so large a star. This may be due to its 
color, which is yellowish white. For half a century, 
from 1844 until 1896, Procyon presented a curious 
problem on account of its slight, yet measurable, 
changes of position. These changes were ascribed 
by their discoverer, Bessel, to the presence of a mas- 
sive invisible companion, but the nineteenth century 
was in its last pentad when Schaeberle, at the Lick 
Observatory, for the first time caught sight of the 
mysterious attendant. The spectrum of Procyon 
places it between Sirius and the sun in the order of 
stellar evolution. Procyon is in the hind quarter of 
the Lesser Dog, while Gomeiza and its two fifth-mag- 
nitude companions mark the animal's head. The 
traditional figure of Canis Minor represents it as a 
well-trained house or watch dog, in contrast with the 
fierce aspect of Canis Major rearing on his hind legs 
with Sirius blazing in his wide-stretched jaws. 

The name Procyon from the Greek vrpo and icvtov, 
means the "Dog Before" i.e., before Sirius; for, on 
account of its greater northern declination, it rises 


a little ahead of Canis Major. In the valley of the 
Euphrates it seems to have been regarded as a water- 
dog on account of its standing on the border of the 
Milky Way, the river of the sky. For some reason 
known only to themselves, astrologers connect this 
constellation, and particularly Procyon, with good- 
fortune and the possession of wealth. 

The companion of Procyon is of the ninth magni- 
tude, and distant only 4". 46 in 1905, so that but a 
few of the most powerful telescopes can show it. 
The two form a binary system with a period of revo- 
lution of about forty years. Their actual distance 
apart is only as great as that between the sun and 
the planet Uranus. A little telescopic star about 
ten minutes of arc east of Procyon is double ; magni- 
tudes, seventh and eighth; distance, i".2. 



On the meridian northwest of Canis Minor shine 
the twins, Gemini, the fourth constellation of the 
zodiac, Taurus being the third. The two chief 
stars, Castor and Pollux, are popularly supposed to 
be equal, and often they are both spoken of as belong- 
ing to the first magnitude. In reality there is a 
decided difference between them. Castor, bearing the 
Greek letter name Alpha (a), and + herefore ranking 
as the leading star of the constellation, is about half- 
way between the first and second magnitudes, while 
Pollux, Beta (ft), is but little less than the first. 
Within the last three hundred years either Castor 


has faded or Pollux has brightened, so that the order 
of their actual brightness has been reversed. There 
is a striking difference of color between them, Castor 
being white and Pollux pale orange. From the re- 
motest antiquity these stars seem to have impressed 
all beholders with the idea of a sort of fraternal re- 
lationship. Their distance apart, about five degrees, 
is not too great for them to resemble a pair, signifi- 
cantly placed with regard to each other, and when 
their magnitudes were equal this impression must 
have been yet stronger. 

The Twins stand with their feet in the Milky Way, 
and their heads in the clear space northeast of its 
borders. The eye readily notices two or three rows 
of stars crossing the constellation, nearly parallel 
with the line joining Castor and Pollux. The middle 
row has a third - magnitude star at each end, the 
lower one, Delta (S), also called Wasat, being in the 
right arm of the twin named Pollux, and the upper 
one, Theta (6), in the out-stretched left hand of his 
brother Castor. Another third-magnitude star, Ep- 
silon (e), in Castor's left thigh, makes an obtuse 
triangle with Delta and Theta. The star Zeta, in 
the right thigh of Pollux, is variable, changing from 
between the third and fourth to between the fourth 
and fifth magnitudes. The brightest star in the con- 
stellation, after the two leaders, is Gamma (7), or 
Almison, in the left foot of Pollux. Castor's left 
foot and ankle are marked by the stars Eta (17), or 
Propus, and Mu (p), both of the third magnitude. 

Gemini has one star of the first magnitude, two 
of the second, four of the third, six of the fourth, 
5 1 


and thirteen of the fifth. Sixth-magnitude stars are 
numerous, four of them making a striking row be- 
tween Gamma (7) and Lambda (A,), which is ex- 
tended eastward beyond Lambda by three others, 
with a fifth-magnitude one in their string. 

Fair Leda's twins, in time to stars decreed, 
One fought on foot, one curbed the fiery steed. 

Dry den's Virgil. 

The heroes Castor and Pollux are among the most 
interesting figures in Greek mythology, and they so 
fascinated the imagination of the Romans that they 
adopted them as the celestial leaders of their world- 
conquering armies. In the chase of the Calydonian 
boar, in Jason's Argonautic expedition in search of 
the Golden Fleece, and in many another famous 
adventure of the demi-gods in Greece, Castor and 
Pollux took their part, and it was inevitable that 
they should finally be translated to the stars. Ac- 
cording to one legend, they were the brothers of 
Helen, for whose fair face "the topless towers of 
Ilium" were burned; according to another, they were 
the twin sons of Leda and Jupiter. In any event, 
they were fighters without stint, and that was enough 
to insure their adoption at Rome as the "Great 
White Brethren," whose appearance in the thick of 
a desperate battle more than once restored the courage 
of both generals and soldiers. 

By many names men call us, 

In many lands we dwell. 
Well Samothracia knows us, 

Cyrene knows us well. 


Our house in gay Tarentum 

Is hung each morn with flowers, 
High o'er the masts of Syracuse 

Our marble portal towers. 
But by the proud Eurotas 

Is our dear native home, 
And for the right we come to fight 

Before the ranks of Rome. 

>Macaulay's Battle of Regillus. 

Visitors to Rome to-day admire their colossal 
figures in the "Dioscuri," on the Monte Cavallo. 
One among the many legends about these heroes is 
interesting as indicating that in very ancient times 
the names of Castor and Pollux may have been 
applied to other conspicuous stars, one of which 
(for instance, Vega) rises when the other (for instance, 
Aldebaran) is setting. This story asserts that at a 
double wedding-feast the brothers got into a broil 
with the bridegrooms and killed them while attempt- 
ing to carry off the two brides. But Castor was 
mortally wounded in the fray, whereupon Pollux, 
who possessed the gift of immortality, wished to 
die also. Jove solved the difficulty by transferring 
them to the sky, decreeing that while one shone 
resplendent the other should pass the time in the 
nether world, and so alternately. 

The Twins have from time immemorial been re- 
garded as the sailors' stars. There is a curious 
reminder of this in the story of St. Paul's voyage to 
Rome, which was interrupted by the shipwreck at 
Malta. An Alexandrian ship, which had wintered 
in the isle, and whose sign, says St. Paul, was Castor 


and Pollux, carried the apostle on to the Eternal 
City. St. Paul's taking the trouble to mention this 
fact is characteristic of his interest in a wide range 
of things outside his religion. We know that he had 
read the astronomical poem of Aratus, for he quoted 
a line from it in his celebrated oration on Mars' Hill 
in Athens. Dr. Seiss would persuade us that Gemini 
was intended to represent the mystic union of Christ 
and His redeemed. For the Jews they were Simeon 
and Levi. The Egyptians represented them as the 
two gods Horus, the Elder and the Younger. They 
have also been called David and Jonathan, and even 
Adam and Eve. They have likewise been connected 
with the St. Elmo's lamps of the sailors. Homer's 
"Hymn to Castor and Pollux" seems to suggest this 
imagined connection between these stars and the 
mysterious mast-head lights: 

When wintry tempests o'er the savage sea 
Are raging, and the sailors tremblingly 
Call on the Twins of Jove with prayer and vow, 
Gathered in fear upon the lofty prow, 

. . . they suddenly appear, 
On yellow wings rushing athwart the sky, 
And lull the blasts in mute tranquillity. 

Shelley's translation. 

The two stars were regarded as twins among the 
aborigines of the South Pacific islands. In Australia 
they were called the "Young Men," and among the 
South African Bushmen the "Young Women." For 
the Assyrians and the Babylonians, independent of 
the Greek traditions, they were also the Twins. 


Castor is a celebrated double-star, one of the first 
binaries demonstrated to possess orbital motion. The 
magnitudes are, approximately, second and third; 
distance in 1907, 5". 5; colors, greenish white and 
white. The period of revolution is long, estimated 
all the way between two hundred and fifty and one 
thousand years. Delta (8) is double; magnitudes, 
third and eighth; distance, 7"; colors, yellow and 
purple. A couple of degrees northwest of the star 
Eta (?;) is a beautiful cluster, No. 1360, which can 
be seen as a glimmering mass with a good opera -glass. 
The telescope reveals it as an astonishing assemblage 
of minute stars of various magnitudes. 



North of Gemini, and between the head of Ursa 
Major, the Greater Bear, and that of Auriga, lies the 
very inconspicuous constellation of the Lynx. It 
contains one star of the third magnitude, one of the 
fourth, and nine of the fifth. It is a modern constel- 
lation, invented by Hevelius in the seventeenth cen- 
tury. It has sometimes been called the Tiger. Al- 
though so insignificant to the naked eye, it contains 
a remarkable number of beautiful double and triple 
stars. The most interesting of these is the star 12, 
in the eye of the animal. The components are of the 
sixth, seventh, and eighth magnitudes; distances, 
i".4 and 8". 7. The star 38, in the extreme south- 
eastern part of the constellation, is a fine double; 




magnitudes, fourth and seventh ; distance, 3" ; colors, 
white and lilac. 

North of the Lynx lies a part of Camelopardalis 
(already described), and the tail of Draco, a constel- 
lation which will be described later. 





THE central point in the sky is now occupied by 
the fifth constellation of the zodiac, Cancer, the 
Crab. It is not conspicuous, and the line of the 
meridian is not brilliant, although on either side of 
it there are beautiful constellations Auriga, Gemini, 
and Canis Minor lying near on the west, while Hydra, 
Leo, and Ursa Major are approaching it from the 

The constellation Cancer is so inconspicuous that 
one wonders at its antiquity, and at the universal 
recognition which it seems to have had in all ages. 
Its position in the zodiac partly accounts for this. 
It contains no star brighter than the fourth magni- 
tude, and only five of them. Two of these stars, 
Delta (B) and Gamma (<y), have been famed from 
ancient times under the name of the Aselli, or Little 
Asses. Gamma is the Asellus Borealis, and Delta 
the Asellus Australis. Nearly between them, a little 
to the west, gleams a naked-eye cluster of small stars 
called Praesepe, or the Manger, from which the Aselli 
s 57 


are supposed to feed. The Manger was a celebrated 
weather portent in the days of Aratus and Homer. 

And watch the Manger. Like a little mist 

Far north, in Cancer's territory, it floats. 

Its confines are two faintly glimmering stars, 

One on the north, the other on the south. 

These are two Asses that the Manger parts, 

Which suddenly, when all the sky is clear, 

Sometimes quite vanishes, and the two stars 

Seem closer to have moved their sundered orbs. 

No feeble tempest then will soak the leas. 

A murky Manger, with both stars 

Unaltered, is a sign of rain. 

If while the Northern Ass is dimmed 

By vaporous shroud, he of the South gleam radiant, 

Expect a south wind. Vapor and radiance 

Exchanging stars, harbinger Boreas. 

Aratus' s Diosemia. 

The dimming of the Manger may truly portend a 
change of weather, since its stars are so faint that 
only their number makes them noticeable at all, and 
the least veil of cirrus at night would hide them 
before the cloud became sufficiently pronounced to 
reveal its presence to the eye. Historically the Man- 
ger is interesting, because it afforded to Galileo one 
of his earliest telescopic proofs of the existence of 
multitudes of stars invisible to the naked eye. In 
his Sidereus Nuntius, containing the original account 
of his discoveries, he says : " Prassepe is not one star 
only, but a mass of more than forty small stars. I 
have noticed thirty-six stars, besides the Aselli, ar- 
ranged in the order of the accompanying diagram." 

a-760", (7- +57. 

m eo CT.I 70 no so zat 190 

Chart III 


He then gives the diagram, which is herewith repro- 
duced : 

* * 

* * * * 

* * ir 
* * * ** * * 


* ^ .. * 



* * 

* * 


This was a great astronomical discovery in his 
day, but now anybody possessing a large opera-glass 
or field-glass can see all that he saw, and even yet 
many persons, who have never looked at the sky 
with a telescope, may be almost as much surprised 
and delighted as Galileo was. An assemblage of stars 
like this, seen through a glass, always produces a 
vivid impression which can never be forgotten. 

The former Astronomer Royal, Mr. Hind, has 
recorded another historic event commemorated by 
the Manger. The most ancient scientific observa- 
tion of Jupiter that is known to us, he says, was 
noted by Ptolemy as having occurred eighty-three 


years after the death of Alexander the Great, when 
the planet, happening to pass over the Prassepe 
cluster, eclipsed the star Delta, or the Asellus Aus- 

In English astronomical folk-lore the Manger is 
called the Beehive, surely a more descriptive name 
than the other. There are yet two more events in 
astronomical history connected with this constella- 
tion. It was in its neighborhood that the celebrated 
comet of Halley, the most infrequent in its returns, 
and the largest of all periodic comets, was first no- 
ticed in 1531, and the two supposed intramercurial 
planets, which the American astronomer Watson im- 
agined that he had discovered during the solar eclipse 
of 1878, were identified by Professor Peters with the 
stars Zeta () and Theta (0). Formerly the summer 
solstitial point was situated in Cancer, although now 
the Precession of the Equinoxes has carried it more 
than thirty degrees towards the west, but we still 
speak of the tropic of Cancer. 

An ancient Greek myth avers that Cancer repre- 
sents the Crab that Hera sent to bite the foot of 
Herakles when he was battling with the Hydra in 
the Lernaean marshes, but the hero slew the Crab as 
well as the Hydra, whereupon the goddess induced 
Zeus to translate the former to the sky. In ancient 
Egypt this constellation was imagined as a Scarabasus, 
and regarded as emblematic of immortality. One 
may wonder how far the ghostly glimmer of the 
Praesepe cluster contributed to this idea. The astro- 
logical significance of Cancer has generally been 
malign, and Berosus predicted that the earth would 


be drowned when all the planets should assemble in 
this constellation. In that case we seem to have had 
a narrow escape in June, 1895, for at that time all of 
the planets, except Neptune, were visible near the 
Crab. But of course the absence of Neptune, as 
god of the sea, was fatal to the combination. There 
could not well be a universal flood with him left out 
of the conspiracy. Mr. Allen says that one of the 
Chinese names for this constellation was the Red 
Bird, supposed to mark one of the residences of the 
Red or Southern Emperor. Praesepe has been re- 
garded as representing the Manger in which Christ 
was born. The Jews referred the constellation to 
Issachar. Dr. Seiss likes the mystic idea of the 
Egyptians, only he thinks that they were handling 
a prophecy which they did not understand. Their 
Scarabseus was a symbol of the Christian resurrection. 
Zeta () is a celebrated quadruple star; magni- 
tudes, sixth, seventh, six-and-a-half, and seven-and- 
a-half; distances, i".i6, 5", and 6".i8, in 1907. 
There is a complicated set of revolutions effected by 
these stars around their several centres of gravity. 
Iota (t) is double; magnitudes, four-and-a-half and 
six-and-a-half; distance, 30". 



Under Cancer, and just north of the celestial 

equator, is a conspicuous pentagon of stars marking 

the head of Hydra, a very long constellation which 

occupies four months in crossing the meridian, the 



tail arriving upon that line at 9 P.M. in the middle 
of June. But, upon the whole, it is best, perhaps, 
to include the description of this constellation in 
the present chapter. The total length of Hydra, 
about a hundred degrees, is less than that of Eridanus, 
but it appears much longer because, unlike the great 
"river," it does not turn back upon its course. Two 
of the stars in the Head of this immense Sea Monster, 
Zeta () and Epsilon (e), are of the third magnitude, 
one, Delta (8), of the fourth, and three of the fifth. 
The lucida of the constellation, Alpha (a), or Al- 
phard (also Cor Hydrae), is of the second magnitude. 
It is in line with the eastern edge of Cancer and 
below the forepaws of Leo. In its comparatively 
lone situation it is fairly conspicuous, made more so, 
perhaps, by its orange-yellow color. From this point 
the constellation, marked with third, fourth, and 
fifth magnitude stars, often arranged in striking 
pairs, winds eastward under Leo, Sextans, Crater, 
Corvus, and Virgo, the tail ending near a bright star 
in the uplifted claw of Scorpio. After the eye has 
once traced out the course of Hydra the image of 
a serpent is not difficult to recognize. Nearly all of 
the bright stars of the constellation are included in 
the figure as it is usually drawn. Hydra, facing 
westward, seems to be contemplating an attack upon 
Canis Minor, just ahead of him, and standing appar- 
ently upon the back of Monoceros. It has sometimes 
been called Draco, but that name is reserved for the 
great dragon that curls about the northern pole of 
the heavens. 

In Greek mythology this was the Lernaean monster 


destroyed by Herakles. It was fabled to have a 
hundred heads, and those who sought to destroy it 
found that if they cut off one, two grew in its place 
while they were occupied with a second. Herakles 
got over the difficulty, at the suggestion of lolaus, 
by searing the stumps with a hot iron as fast as the 
heads were severed an excellent plan for other 

Art thou proportioned to the Hydra's length, 
Who from his wounds received augmented strength? 
He raised a hundred hissing heads in air; 
When one I lopped up sprang a dreadful pair. 

The Egyptians at one time regarded this constel- 
lation not as a serpent but as the celestial counter- 
part of the Nile. It has also been identified with the 
dragon of the Argonautic expedition, but that is 
generally regarded as being represented by the Draco 
of the North Polar region. Dr. Seiss avers that 
Hydra stands for "the Great Dragon, that old Ser- 
pent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceived the 
whole world" (see Revelations xii.), and earlier con- 
structors of Biblical symbols among the stars re- 
garded this constellation as representing the Flood, 
while Corvus, the Raven, standing on its back, was 
the bird sent out by Noah. 

Epsilon (e) is a remarkably beautiful double ; mag- 
nitudes, fourth and eighth; distance, 3". 4; colors, 
yellow and blue. Theta (6) is double; magnitudes, 
fourth and twelfth; distance, 50". 

Underneath the Head of Hydra, extending down 
to the southern horizon, is a relatively barren region, 


covered by a part of the constellation Argo Navis. 
Turning to the region north of Cancer, near the line 
of the meridian, we find before reaching the Pole 
Star only the hind quarters of the Lynx, the fore- 
paws and head of Ursa Major, and the head of Cam- 
elopardalis, which have already been described or will 
be described later. 





EX3, the great Lion of the sky, now reigns supreme, 
king of celestial as of terrestrial beasts. Leo is 
the sixth constellation of the zodiac, and one of the 
most clearly marked on account of the figure of a 
large sickle, with its handle downward and its curving 
blade open towards the west, which occupies the 
western part of the constellation, including the head 
and fore quarters of the Lion. At the end of the 
handle of this sickle glows the principal star of the 
constellation, Regulus, or Alpha (a), usually ranked 
as of the first magnitude, but in reality of less than 
the standard brightness. Still, Regulus is a conspic- 
uous and beautiful star, and, lying very close to the 
ecliptic, it is sometimes occulted by the moon. 

This star has been famous in all ages. Copernicus 
bestowed upon it the name it now bears, a diminu- 
tive form, says Mr. Allen, of the earlier name Rex, 
which arose from the ancient belief that it ruled the 
affairs of heaven. In English it has often been called 
the Royal Star. In Persian uranography it was one 


of four Royal Stars, the " Four Guardians of Heaven," 
the others of which have been identified with Fomal- 
haut, Aldebaran, and An tares. These marked the 
four cardinal points, Regulus standing for the South, 
Fomalhaut for the North, Aldebaran for the East, 
and Antares for the West. As they are about six 
hours of Right Ascension apart, and all very con- 
spicuous, their selection for this purpose was not 
unnatural. With the exception of Fomalhaut, they 
all lie quite close to the ecliptic, the annual path of 
the sun. 

Regulus shines near the heart of Leo, and accord- 
ingly is sometimes spoken of as the Lion's Heart. 
The second star of the constellation lies far away 
to the east in the end of the tail. It is called Dene- 
bola, or Beta (/3), and is of the second magnitude. 
Five other stars besides Regulus constitute the figure 
of the sickle already spoken of. One of these, Ganir 
(7), Algieba, is of the second magnitude; thre , Eta 
(77), Zeta (), and Epsilon (e), are of the third 
nitude; and one, Mu (i>), of the fourth. G; 
is a beautiful double, and is also interesting for 
close to the radiant point of the great Novt 
meteor shower, which was so brilliant in 1833 
1866. These stars lie in the mane and head o 
Lion, Lambda (X), a little west of Epsilon (e), 1 
in the open jaws. Regulus, Gamma, Denebola ; 
Delta mark the corners of a conspicuous quadril; 
which covers the whole central part of the constel- 
lation. Both Regulus and Denebola, by their spectra, 
belong to the Sirian order of suns that is to say, 
they are younger than our sun. 


i' r* 





>/ CT>HI 

**> JBW 

hart iv 



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. * 







Nearly all of the old nations saw a lion in this con- 
stellation. According to the Greeks, it was the cel- 
ebrated Nemaean Lion slain by Herakles. In India 
and in Egypt it was always represented in the zodi- 
acs by the figure of a lion. It was associated with 
the great heat of summer, and Burritt remarks: 

The Egyptians were much annoyed by lions during the 
heat of summer, as they at that season left the desert and 
haunted the banks of the Nile, which had then its greatest 
elevation. It was therefore natural for their astronomers 
to place the Lion where we find him in their zodiac. 

The Lion was the symbol of the tribe of Judah, 
and the constellation is found in the Hebrew zodiac, 
where it is the twelfth or last sign instead of the 
fifth. Allen calls attention to a remark of Land- 
seer that the association of Leo with Judah arose 
from the fact that Leo was Judah 's natal sign, and 
as such was borne on the signet ring which he gave 
to Tamar. In the Middle Ages Leo was identified 
with Daniel's lion. Dr. Seiss develops in detail the 
connection of Leo with the lion of the tribe of Judah, 
and, referring to the Apocalypse, he says that " what 
is thus pictured in the last book of the Scriptures is 
the same that was fore-intimated and recorded in 
this last sign of the zodiac before any one book of 
our present Bible was written." As in China every- 
thing goes by contraries, the Lion of the zodiac was 
there regarded as a Horse. Regulus has always been 
a fortunate star with the astrologers, while Denebola, 
at the other end of the constellation, is an unfortunate 


one a very even-handed distribution of powers for 
one constellation. 

Regulus has at a distance of three minutes of arc 
a faint companion star which, it has been said, 
looks as if it had been steeped in indigo, and which 
is double; magnitudes, eight-and-a-half and thir- 
teenth; distance, 3". 3. Gamma is one of the most 
charming doubles in the sky; magnitudes, second 
and fourth; distance, 3". 6; colors, orange and green. 
These colors are pronounced. Iota is double; mag- 
nitudes, fourth and eighth; distance, 2". 2; colors, 
lemon yellow and light blue. The variable star R 
is remarkable. Its color is deep red, and in the space 
of three hundred and twelve days it changes from the 
fifth magnitude to the tenth, and back again. Con- 
sequently for a part of the time it is entirely absent 
from the sky, as far as naked-eye observation is con- 
cerned. Being at a maximum about January 20, 
1908, future periods of visibility of this star may be 
predicted from its periodic time. 

Leo Minor 


This is a small constellation lying north of Leo and 
under the hind feet of Ursa Major. The Lesser Lion 
is inconspicuous to the eye, and possesses no mythol- 
ogy, having been invented by Hevelius in the seven- 
teenth century. It contains only three stars as bright 
as the fourth magnitude and six of the fifth magni- 
tude. It is almost equally uninteresting for telescopic 


Ursa Major 


Directly north of Leo Minor is one of the great 
figures of uranography, and one of the most familiar 
to ordinary observation of all the constellations Ursa 
Major, the Greater Bear. Indeed, on account of its 
situation within about forty degrees of the north polar- 
star, Ursa Major is probably oftener seen and recog- 
nized in the heavens than any other group of stars. 
It is especially known by the celebrated figure of the 
Great Dipper, formed by seven stars in the flank and 
tail of the Bear. In the latitude of New York the 
Great Dipper never sets, the star in the extreme end 
of the long handle just skimming the horizon in the 
evenings of November and December, while in May 
and June it is almost overhead. 

There is no other figure among the stars so well 
marked as this, unless it may be the Northern Cross 
in Cygnus, or the Northern Crown. But the Great 
Dipper is far more conspicuous than either of these. 
Six of its seven stars are of the second magnitude, and 
one of the third. 

In the middle of the handle is a famous naked-eye 
double, Mizar, whose companion, close by on the 
northeast, is named Alcor. These stars are sometimes 
called the Horse and Rider. Any good eye can easily 
separate them, and yet they were at one time regarded 
as a test of naked-eye seeing. 

The Great Dipper has had many names, among 
them being Charles's Wain, and the Plough, the popu- 


lar title in England. Mr. Allen has shown how the 
name Charles's Wain (meaning wagon) is derived 
from an earlier title which made it Charlemagne's 
Wain. The courtiers of King Charles I. of England 
connected it with his name: 

. . . those bright stars 

Which English shepherds Charles's Wain do name, 
But more this isle is Charles's wain, 
Since Charles her royal wagoner became. 

John Taylor (1630). 

The use of this asterism as a timekeeper is vividly 
illustrated by Shakespeare in the scene between the 
carriers in the inn-yard at Rochester, in "King Henry 
IV.," Part L, Act II., Scene!.: 

Heigh-ho! an' it be not four by the day, I'll be hanged: 
Charles's Wain is over the new chimney, and yet our horse 
is not packed! 

In earlier England it was called Arthur's Wain. In 
America the seven stars of the Dipper have sometimes 
borne the pleasing title of the Seven Little Indians, 
and I recall from boyhood days, in the Mohawk Val- 
ley, this doggerel, which was sung to a childish air: 

One little, two little, three little Injuns, 
Four little, five little, six little Injuns, 
Seven little Injun boys. 
Seven little, six little, five little Injuns, 
Four little, three little, two little Injuns, 
One little Injun boy. 

I do not know whether the Indians had any legend 
about the seven stars, but the Algonquins called the 


whole constellation the Bear and Hunters. The name 
Plough, so popular in England, is of classic origin, 
the Romans having known the Dipper as the Triones, 
or Oxen, which were figured as drawing a plough. 
These became with later writers the Septentriones, 
as in Virgil. 

For the people of the far North, the Laplanders, the 
stars of the Dipper represent a reindeer. The name 
Seven Stars has often been given to the Pleiades, but, 
as Mr. Allen remarks, seems more appropriate when 
applied to the stars of the Dipper, on account of the 
conspicuousness of the latter. They have been called, 
variously, the Seven Wise Men of Greece, the Seven 
Sleepers of Ephesus, and the Seven Champions of 

The individual names of these stars, beginning with 
the northwestern corner of the bowl of the imaginary 
dipper, are Dubhe, Merak, Phaed, Megrez (the faint 
one), Alioth, Mizar (before mentioned with its com- 
panion, Alcor), and Benetnasch. Their Greek letter 
names, in the same order, are Alpha (a), Beta 09), 
Gamma (7), Delta (8), Epsilon (e), Zeta (?), and Eta 
(?/). Alpha and Beta, the pair in the outer side of 
the bowl, are often called the Pointers, because an im- 
aginary line drawn through them and extended pole- 
wards nearly hits the pole-star at a distance of about 
thirty degrees. These seven stars differ in color, al- 
though the fact may not be apparent to hasty ob- 
servation. Alpha and Gamma are yellow, Beta is 
greenish, and Zeta and Eta are brilliant white. Delta, 
now so much fainter than its sisters that one feels a 
certain disappointment over the irregularity which 


it introduces into an otherwise perfect array of equal 
stars, seems formerly to have been as bright as any 
of them, and, in his time, Tycho Brahe, the famous 
Danish astronomer, estimated it of the second mag- 
nitude, like the others. It is probably a long-period 

The idea of dancing was connected with Ursa Major, 
as well as with the other circumpolar constellations, 
by the ancients. Sir G. C. Lewis says that this was 
derived from the circular dances of the Greeks. The 
two bears (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor) were imag- 
ined reeling round the pole like a pair of waltzers : 

Onward the kindred Bears, with footsteps rude, 
Dance round the pole, pursuing and pursued. 

E. Darwin. 

The mythology of Ursa Major is intimately asso- 
ciated with that of Ursa Minor (see Chapter VII.), 
and together they have furnished more poetic sug- 
gestions to the literature of many nations than any 
half-dozen of the other constellations. The ceaseless 
tread of the Bears, keeping guard round the north 
pole, naturally appeals to the popular imagination. 
Ursa Major was fabled to be Helice, or Callisto, a 
princess of Arcadia, who, having offended Hera by 
attracting the attention of the ever -amorous Zeus, 
was turned into a bear: 

. . . her hand within her hair she wound, 
Swung her to earth and dragged her on the ground. 
The prostrate wretch lifts up her hands in prayer; 
Her arms grow shaggy and deformed with hair, 


Her nails are sharpened into pointed claws, 
Her hands bear half her weight, and turn to paws, 
Her lips, that once could tempt a god, begin 
To grow distorted in an ugly grin. 

Ovid's Metamorphoses. 

After this painful tragedy of female jealousy, Jove, 
with his usual regard for his friends, translated poor 
Helice to the sky and bestowed upon her the im- 
mortality of the stars. The extreme and very un- 
bear-like length of Ursa Major's tail has always been 
a subject of pleasantry, and Mr. Allen quotes a quaint 
explanation suggested by Dr. Thomas Hood early in 
the seventeenth century: 

Imagine that Jupiter, fearing to come too nigh unto her 
teeth, layde holde on her tayle, and thereby drew her up 
into the heaven, so that shee of herself, being very weightie, 
and the distance from the earth to the heavens very great, 
there was great likelihood that her taile must stretch. 
Other reason know I none. 

In Scandinavia Ursa Major was Thor's Wagon, and 
also the Wagon of Odin, Thor's father. Among the 
Hebrews the constellation was regarded as a bier, or 
coffin, and the early Christians called it the Bier of 
Lazarus. In the Middle Ages it was regarded by some 
as one of the bears sent by Elisha the prophet to de- 
vour the mocking boys. Dr. Seiss regards it as sym- 
bolical of the heavenly Sheepfold, and he manages to 
derive the name Callisto from a Semitic root meaning 
a sheepfold, or enclosure. 

Ursa Major has six stars of the second magnitude ; 
eleven of the third ; three of the fourth ; forty of the 
6 73 


fifth, and a great number of the sixth. The three f 
pairs in the feet are conspicuous. 

The star Zeta (), or Mizar, has already been de- 
scribed as a naked -eye double. The larger star is 
again doubled in the telescope, presenting a very 
charming spectacle; magnitudes, second and fourth; 
distance, 14". 5 ; colors, white and emerald. The larger 
star of this pair is a close spectroscopic binary. Zeta 
is also interesting as the first telescopic double ever 
observed. Riccioli detected its duplicity in 1650. 
The star Xi (), in the right hind-foot, is double; 
magnitudes, fourth and fifth; distance, 2". 5. The star 
Sigma (er) is double; magnitudes, fifth and eighth; 
distance, 2 ".6. 



Between Ursa Major and the north pole winds the 
body of Draco, which will be described in a subse- | 
quent chapter. We turn now to the neighborhood of 
the meridian south of Leo. Directly underneath the 
Sickle of Leo is the small constellation Sextans, the 
Sextant. This is one of the seventeenth - century 
constellations formed by Hevelius from star spaces, 
either left out of their constellations by the ancients, 
or apparently useless to them, and consequently re- 
garded as a kind of "public land," which the first 
settler could seize. Hevelius was not unmindful of 
his own glory in this case, since he formed the con- 
stellation to immortalize the sextant used by him in 
his stellar observations. Admiral Smyth says that 
Hevelius put the Sextant between Leo and Hydra 


because those constellations, according to the as- 
trologers, were of a fiery nature, and he wished to 
commemorate the fire which destroyed his house and 
his instruments at Dantzic in 1679. After a couple 
of thousand years this could be transformed into as 
good a myth as any, Hevelius becoming a demigod 
who hunted down celestial monsters and brought or- 
der into the sky with a terrible three-bladed weap- 
on more fatal than the Club of Herakles. In the 
seventeenth century Von Rheita imagined that he 
saw Saint Veronica's Sacred Handkerchief among the 
stars out of which Hevelius constructed his Sextant. 
Sir John Herschel, who was not without humor for 
an astronomer, remarked concerning Von Rheita's 
sacred handkerchief that many strange things were 
seen among the stars before powerful telescopes be- 
came common. Sextans contains one star of the 
fourth magnitude, and four of the fifth. 



The constellation Crater, the Cup, is represented 
by an appropriate figure standing on the back of the 
immense sea-serpent Hydra. Its shape suggests the 
name by which it has been known from time imme- 
morial. It is usually represented in the form of a 
large urn, or beaker, tipped towards the east. In 
China it seems to have been figured as a dog. It 
contains one star of the third magnitude, Delta (8), 
four of the fourth, and two of the fifth. The leading 


star, Alpha (a), or Alkes, is not now the brightest. 
The mythology of this constellation is more inter- 
esting than its appearance promises. The Greeks 
regarded it as the Goblet of Apollo, but Manilius 
ascribes it to Bacchus: 

Close by the Serpent spreads, whose winding spires 
With ordered stars resemble scaly fires. 
Next flies the Crow, and next the generous Bowl 
Of Bacchus flows, and cheers the thirsty pole. 

It was also known as the Cup of Herakles, of Achil- 
les, of Dido, and of Medea. Later it was identified 
with the cup that Joseph found in Benjamin's sack, 
and with Noah's wine-cup. Dr. Seiss gives it a tragic 
turn, and ominously calls it the Cup of Wrath of the 
Revelations: "Dreadful beyond all thought is the 
picture John gives of this cup of unmingled and eter- 
nal wrath, but not a whit more dreadful than the 
picture of it which the primeval prophets have thus 
inscribed upon the stars." 

It must be confessed that the good doctor's im- 
agination is vivid, for Crater is a very inoffensive- 
looking constellation, much more suggestive of Bac- 
chus than of wrath. 





DIRECTLY east of Crater, and also standing on 
the back of Hydra, is Corvus the Crow. Four 
bright stars, marking out an irregular quadrilateral, 
make this constellation conspicuous. Three of these 
stars, Beta OS), Delta (S), or Algorab, and Gamma (7), 
or Giena, are of the second magnitude. The fourth, 
Epsilon (e), is of the third magnitude, while Alpha 
(a), or Al Chiba, the leader of the constellation, sit- 
uated below Epsilon, is only of the fourth magnitude. 
It was probably brighter in ancient times, for it bears 
the name which the Arabs, according to Mr. Allen, 
gave to the entire constellation. A fifth-magnitude 
star, Eta (77), makes a striking naked-eye pair with 
Delta. Alpha is in the beak of the bird, which is 
represented pecking at the scales of Hydra: 

A phantom Crow that seems to peck her spires. 


The ancient Akkadians seem to have regarded this 
constellation as representing a horse, but nearly all 


the other ancients saw a bird there. With the Chinese 
it was the Red Bird, with the Romans and the He- 
brews the Raven, and in the valley of the Euphrates 
it may, according to Mr. Allen's interpretation of an 
ancient tablet, have been called the Great Storm Bird, 
or the Bird of the Desert, connected with the myth 
of Tiamat. Among the Greeks, Apollo was credited 
with having placed this bird among the stars, as 
usual in such cases, for services rendered in an amo- 
rous adventure. Becoming suspicious of the beautiful 
Coronis, the mother of ^Esculapius, the god sent a crow 
to watch her. The testimony of this winged detective 
led to the death of Coronis by an avenging arrow, and 
to the translation of the tell-tale bird to the sky. 
Corvus is Dr. Seiss's Bird of Doom, indicating by his 
attack on Hydra, the Fleeing Serpent, the final over- 
throw of the Evil One. 



North of Corvus, but extending far beyond the 
eastern limit of that comparatively small constella- 
tion, is Virgo, the seventh constellation of the zodia :, 
which contains one of the most beautiful of all tl.e 
first-magnitude stars, Spica, or Alpha (a) Virginis. 

No one can familiarize himself with the stars with- 
out insensibly choosing favorites among them. Spica 
has long been one of my favorites, not because of ex- 
traordinary brilliancy, for it has not the full bright- 
ness of the first magnitude, but rather because of the 

-90\ ($-+28*. 

HO 50 09 CT.M OP 

Chart V 


singular purity of its white rays, and because of its 
association with the opening of spring. Its situation 
in the sky is also such as to attract and please the 
eye. There is no other star of anything like equal 
brightness within thirty degrees of it. Spica, to- 
gether with Denebola in the Lion's tail, Arcturus in 
Bootes, and Cor Caroli in Canes Venatici, form the 
celebrated "Diamond of Virgo," a geometrical figure 
fifty degrees in its greatest length and very striking 
when once the eye has traced it out. Historically 
Spica is very interesting, as having, together with 
Regulus in Leo, furnished to Hipparchus the data 
which enabled him to discover the Precession of the 
Equinoxes. It belongs to the first, or youngest, order 
of suns, together with Sirius, Rigel, and Vega. Like 
them, too, it is a sun of enormous magnitude. It is 
one of the spectroscopic binaries, the period of revo- 
lution being only four days. 

Virgo, the Virgin, has been the name of this con- 
stellation among all peoples and in all parts of the 
world, even in China, where she was called the 
Frigid Maiden. As generally drawn by the makers 
of constellation figures, she carries a head of wheat in 
her left hand, and here shines Spica, a name signi- 
fying a wheat ear. She has folded wings springing 
from her shoulders, the star Beta (/?), or Zavijava, 
marking the top of the left wing. Three fourth, one 
fifth, and two sixth magnitude stars indicate the head. 
The star Eta (77), or Zaniah, of the third magnitude, 
is in the heart. Gamma (7), or Porrima, of the third 
magnitude, shines on the girdle. Theta (0), Zeta (), 
and Delta (8) are spangled upon the drapery. Theta 


is of the fourth and the others of the third magnitude. 
Epsilon (e), or Vindemiatrix, of the third magnitude, 
shines in the right wing. The name means "grape- 
gatherer," and originated from the fact that this star 
was seen rising before the morning sun at the begin- 
ning of the vintage. The stars Lambda (\), Pi (TT), 
and Iota (*) are in the Virgin's feet. There are about 
a dozen fairly conspicuous stars belonging to the con- 
stellation which are not included in the figure. Al- 
together Virgo contains one star of the first magni- 
tude, six of the third, nine of the fourth, and seventeen 
of the fifth. The sixth-magnitude stars are very nu- 
merous, a striking band of them running down the 
middle of the drapery below the girdle and above 

Virgo is a mine of beautiful myths. Mr. Andrew 
Lang has shown that the old English "Kern-baby," 
made up of the last gleanings of the harvest, and es- 
corted with music from the field, recalls the harvest 
goddess of ancient Peru and a similar divinity of 
Sicily, who was identical with Persephone, the daugh- 
ter of Demeter, the goddess of the corn. Georgius 
Ca3sius, in the sixteenth century, beautifully imag- 
ined the classic Virgo as Ruth gleaning in the fields 
of Boaz. Mr. Allen recalls an old custom of La 
Vendee, where the farmer's wife, under the name of 
the Corn Mother, is tossed in a blanket at the end 
of the harvest to bring good-luck at the threshing. 
All of these popular customs are directly associated 
with the myths concerning the constellation Virgo. 

Hesiod identified Virgo with Astrasa, the Goddess 
of Justice, who ruled the world in the Golden Age. As 


mankind passed in succession through the Silver and 
the Bronze ages to the terrible Age of Iron, all the 
gods and goddesses one by one quitted the earth, but 
Astraa lingered until the last. When she could no 
longer endure the brutal scenes and passions dis- 
played around her, "loathing that race of men," she 

Winged her flight to heaven, 
Where still by night is seen 
The Virgin goddess near to bright Bootes. 


The Romans had an equally exalted opinion of the 
character of Virgo: 

But modest Virgo's rays give polisht parts, 
And fill men's breasts with honesty and arts; 
No tricks for gain, nor love of wealth dispense, 
But piercing thoughts and winning eloquence. 


Another Greek legend associated Virgo with Erig- 
one, the unfortunate daughter of Icarius, the Athe- 
nian who enjoyed the friendship of the god Bacchus. 
The god fell in love with Erigone, but this honor 
which was not, to be sure, a very singular one did not 
deter her from hanging herself for grief over the mur- 
der of her father. Mr. Allen, whose suggestions are 
always interesting, supposes that the name Erigone 
may have been derived from the Homeric 'Hpiyeveia, 
the Early Born, the constellation being a very old one. 
In Egypt, Virgo was identified with Isis, and it was 
said that she had made the Milky Way by dropping 
wheat.- heads. In the valley of the Euphrates she 


seems to have been associated with Ishtar, the Queen 
of the Stars, turned, says Allen, into the Ashtoreth of 
the Book of Kings, the Astarte of Syria, the Hathor of 
Egypt, and the Aphrodite of Greece. In Assyria she 
was Bel's wife. In Judea her name was Bethulah, 
and she was regarded as giving abundant harvests. 
Dr. Seiss, as we might anticipate, identifies her with 
the Virgin Mary. The same thing was done by the 
churchmen of the Middle Ages. 

Scattered over the area between the stars Beta, 
Eta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon lies the celebrated 
Field of the Nebulae, thus called on account of the 
surprising assemblage of faint telescopic nebulas to 
be seen there. They number more than three hun- 
dred! Nebulas are the seeds of future suns, and, re- 
membering this fact, one cannot help being impressed 
by the singular choice of Virgo as the celestial patron 
of husbandry, a choice made thousands of years be- 
fore the invention of the telescope or the discovery 
that such things as nebulae existed. Was there once 
a now forgotten age when men were as learned as we 
are to-day, and did a little of this knowledge descend 
to their degenerate successors in the form of uncom- 
prehended traditions? Another thing which associ- 
ates the Field of the Nebulae with the ideas of seed- 
time and harvest, of growth, life, and development, is 
the presence in the same area of an extraordinary 
number of variable stars. 

Among telescopic objects may be mentioned the 
star Gamma, one of the most celebrated of visual 
binaries. In brightness the two components are near- 
ly equal, both being usually reckoned of the third 


magnitude. The distance between them is variable, 
since they revolve around their common centre of 
gravity in a long period, which may be as much as a 
hundred and seventy years. In 1836 they were so 
close that no telescope could split them. In 1904 
their distance was 5". 8. In 1931 their distance should 
be over 6", and after that, if the period mentioned 
is correct, they will begin to close up again. Theta 
is double; magnitudes, fourth and ninth; distance, 
7". There is a third faint star at a distance of 65". 

Coma Berenices 


North of Virgo, directly on the meridian in the mid- 
dle of May, and almost exactly overhead in the mean 
latitude of the United States, is the beautiful little 
constellation of Coma Berenices, or Berenice's Hair. 
To the eye it appears as a glimmering spot in the sky, 
and a little attention is needed to reveal the separate 
stars composing it. There are six of these in a close 
group in the crown of the chevelure, one of the fourth, 
and five of the fifth magnitude. There are two other 
fourth -magnitude and twelve fifth -magnitude stars 
in the constellation, with many of the sixth magnitude 
which serve to increase the glimmer. They have no 
names or letters only numbers. Yet the constella- 
tion is an ancient one. It is situated at the northern 
pole of the Milky Way. The name is said to be that 
of Berenice, the queen of Ptolemy Euergetes, and the 
legend relates that when her husband started on a 
dangerous campaign into Assyria, Berenice vowed to 


dedicate her beautiful hair to the Temple of Venus if 
he should return safe. He did return, and the queen 
kept her vow. Then Jove, who was always ready to 
oblige a beautiful woman, even though she were mor- 
tal, translated the shining locks to the stars. Eratos- 
thenes, however, identified the constellation with the 
hair of Ariadne. In later Christian times it was 
identified with the sacred handkerchief, the Vera 
Icon, of Saint Veronica. Dr. Seiss associates it with 
the Star of the Magi. It was vertically overhead at 
Jerusalem on the 2$th of December at the time of 
Christ's birth, he says, and he locates the wonderful 
new star observed by Hipparchus, more than a hun- 
dred years before, in this constellation. It was the 
appearance of this star that led Hipparchus to make 
his stellar catalogue. Hipparchus lived more than 
, century before Christ, but Dr. Seiss has found a 
Chinese reference to the new star as being brilliant 
at a period corresponding to that of the Saviour's 
birth. In the days of Ptolemy, a century and a half 
after Christ, the star was so faint as hardly to be dis- 
tinguishable. If it was a temporary star, it has not 
reappeared since. 

There is in Coma Berenices a singular collection of 
double stars with lilac-colored companions. I quote, 
on this subject, from my Pleasures of the Telescope: 

Let us begin with the star 2 , magnitudes sixth and seven 
and a half, distance 3". 6. The color of the smaller star is 
lilac. This color, although not extremely uncommon among 
double stars elsewhere, recurs with singular persistence in 
this little constellation. In the very next star that we look 
at, 12, we find a double whose smaller component is lilac. 


The magnitudes are fifth and eighth, distance 66". So 
also the wide double 17, magnitudes fifth and six and a 
half, distance 145", exhibits a tinge of lilac in the smaller 
component. The triple 35, magnitudes fifth, eighth, and 
ninth, distances i" and 2 8' '.7, has for colors yellow, lilac, and 
blue; and the double 24, magnitudes fifth and sixth, dis- 
tance 20", combines an orange with a lilac star. 

Canes Venatid 


Between Coma Berenices and the handle of the 
Great Dipper we find another extremely interesting 
little constellation Canes Venatici, or the Hunting 
Dogs. It has but one star as bright as the third mag- 
nitude, the beautiful Cor Caroli, or Charles's Heart, 
thus named by Halley in honor of King Charles II. 
of England, because it was said to have shone with 
extraordinary brilliancy on the night of his corona- 
tion. This star is double, having at a distance of 
20" a sixth-magnitude companion of a light-blue or, as 
some say, lilac hue. The contrast is superb in a small 

But while the principal star of the Hunting Dogs 
has received a name whose romance is associated with 
English history, the constellation was invented in 
Germany by Hevelius He named the two dogs As- 
terion and Chara, the former being the more north- 
ern one. Cor Caroli flames on the collar of Chara. 
These dogs are represented as a pair of hounds held 
in a leash by Bootes, and seeming to chase Ursa Major 
round the pole, whence Carlyle's reference to the dogs 


of Bootes running across the zenith " in their leash of 
sidereal fire." Canes Venatici contains, besides Cor 
Caroli, one star of the fourth magnitude and seven- 
teen of the fifth. In the head of the dog Asterion, 
invisible to the naked eye, and revealing its full won- 
der only in photographs, is the famous Whirlpool 
Nebula of Lord Rosse. 

Some degrees north - northwest of Cor Caroli is a 
remarkable star, faintly visible to the naked eye, 
which Secchi named La Superba, on account of its 
surprisingly brilliant red color. A telescope should 
be used to appreciate its beauty. 





WE begin with the eighth constellation of the zo- 
diac, Libra, the Balance, which at nine o'clock in 
the middle of June appears just entering upon the 
meridian from the east, following the feet of Virgo. 
This constellation was blended by the Greeks with 
Scorpio, forming the out -stretched claws of that mon- 
ster. It seems to have been separated from Scorpio, 
under the name of Libra, in the time of Julius Caesar. 
Homer's reference to "golden scales" hung by Zeus 
in heaven is thought to have been associated with 
some other group of stars, but Milton places the 
Balance where we see it in his description of the 
threatened battle between Gabriel and Satan: 

. . . Now dreadful deeds 
Might have ensued, nor only Paradise 
In this commotion, but the starry cope 
Of heaven perhaps, or all the elements 
At least, had gone to wrack, disturbed and torn 
With violence of this conflict, had not soon 


The Eternal, to prevent such horrid fray, 

Hung forth in heaven his golden scales, yet seen 

Betwixt Astrasa and the Scorpion sign. 

Paradise Lost, Book IV. 

Astraea here refers to Virgo. Two stars of the sec 
ond magnitude, Beta 09), or Zubeneschemali, anc 
Alpha (a), or Zubenelgenubi, indicate the two scale; 
of the balance, Beta being the more northern anc 
the brighter. This star is remarkable as the onh 
naked-eye star which has a green color. The hue i; 
sufficiently pronounced to be evident to any sensitiv< 
eye. Green is a rare stellar color, except with som< 
of the components of telescopic doubles. Some eyes 
however, detect a tinge of green in the rays of Sirius 
Alpha has a fifth -magnitude companion easily seei 
with an opera-glass. Besides its two leading stars 
Libra contains one star of the fourth magnitude anc 
nine of the fifth. 

The mythology of this constellation is confusing 
Although forming the claws of Scorpio in the time o 
Eratosthenes, it seems to have been an independen 
constellation at an earlier date. The Greeks at om 
time called it the Beam, and associated it with th< 
scales of the Goddess of Justice. Readers of Addisoi 
will recall his beautiful dream of the Balance in th< 
Taller. In China the constellation at first representec 
a dragon, but afterwards a celestial balance. Theri 
are indistinct indications that in the valley of thi 
Euphrates it stood for the Tower of Babel. It wa 
also regarded as an altar. Another identificatioi 
among the Greeks was with Pluto's chariot, in whicl 

Chart VI 

Vari a,bilt s . 



he ran off with Persephone, or Proserpina. For Dr. 
Seiss it symbolizes the Divine Judgment. He ac- 
counts for the confusion arising from its association 
with the claws of Scorpio by saying that in some of 
the ancient zodiacs the under bowl of the balance was 
represented as being seized by the Scorpion. 

The star Delta (8) is a remarkable short -period 
variable, changing every two days, seven hours and 
fifty-one minutes from the fifth down to less than the 
sixth magnitude, and back again. Variables of this 
kind belong to what is called the Algol type, from 
the star Algol in Perseus, the first of them to be dis- 
covered. Their changes are probably caused by the 
periodic interposition of huge dark bodies revolving 
around them. 



Another breath from Homer comes to us when we 
reach Bootes, the great constellation of the North. 
The name is taken letter for letter from the Odyssey : 

So he sat and cunningly guided the craft with the helm, 
nor did sleep fall upon his eyelids as he viewed the Pleiades 
and Bootes, that setteth late, and the Bear, which they like- 
wise call the Wain, which turneth ever in one place and 
alone hath no part in the baths of Ocean. This star, Ca- 
lypso, the fair goddess, bade him keep ever on the left as 
he traversed the deep. 

Odyssey, Book V. 

The constellation is represented by the figure of a 
tall man, with uplifted hand, holding a leash to which 
r 89 


are attached the Hunting Dogs, Canes Venatici. They 
seem to be chasing the Greater Bear around the pole, 
hence the name, often given to Bootes, of the Bear 
Driver. But he has also been represented as a Herds- 
man and a Ploughman. The constellation is nearly 
fifty degrees in length from north to south, and imme- 
diately attracts the eye by the splendor of its principal 
star, the celebrated Arcturus, which many regard as the 
brightest star north of the celestial equator. It has, 
however, two rivals for this honor, Capella and Vega, 
or Alpha Lyrae. Photometric measurements show 
all three of about the same brightness only three- 
tenths of a magnitude below the zero rank. But 
Arcturus possesses a peculiar prestige on account of 
the admiring mention of its name in the Book of Job, 
where the Almighty, answering Job out of the whirl- 
wind, is represented as demanding, at the end of a 
dazzling string of astronomical allusions, "Canst thou 
guide Arcturus with his sons?" It is doubtful, how- 
ever, whether the Hebrew poet was thinking of the 
star Arcturus or of the constellation Ursa Major when 
he wrote this magnificent passage, whose rhetoric loses 
none of its sublimity in the English rendering. 

Arcturus is generally regarded as a red star. When 
near the horizon it flames splendidly, but high in the 
heavens its color seems to fade. There is evidence 
that it undergoes changes of color, and that formerly 
the ruddy tint was more pronounced. At present 
it may, perhaps, best be described as golden yellow. 
It is a sun of great magnitude, exceeding ours in 
intrinsic brilliancy at least a hundred times. Its 
spectrum resembles that of the sun, but indicates a 


more advanced stage. In 1858, when Donati's comet 
blazed in the Northern sky, Arcturus shone brilliant- 
ly one night through the comet, close to the head. 
Curiously enough, the great comet of 1618 also passed 
over Arcturus without dimming its light. Arcturus 
is one of the "runaway suns," its proper motion 
amounting to two hundred or three hundred miles per 
second. It is moving in a southwesterly direction 
across the sky, the change of position amounting to 
more than 2" of arc per year. It has travelled twice 
the diameter of the moon since the time of Ptolemy. 
The sudden arrest of the motion of so vast a star by 
means of one of the "astronomical collisions" which 
occasionally occur in space would produce an outburst 
of light exceeding anything of the kind that has ever 
been witnessed from the earth. 

Arcturus is sometimes represented in the knee of 
the figure, and sometimes, like a great pendent jewel, 
it hangs on the hem of the giant's robe. Next to 
Arcturus, the brightest star in the constellation is 
Epsilon (e), or Mirac, of the third magnitude, or, as 
Heis charts it, the second. This is reckoned by some 
observers as the most beautiful double star in the 
heavens, on account of the contrast of colors presented. 
Mirac is in the right elbow. Beta (/?), or Nakkar, in 
the head, is of the third magnitude, as are Gamma (7) 
in the left shoulder, Delta (S) in the staff held in the 
right hand, Zeta () in the right foot, and Eta (?/) in 
the left knee. A group of three fifth-magnitude stars 
northeast of the end of the Great Dipper's handle 
marks the uplifted left hand holding the leash. The 
most easterly of these stars, Theta (0), bears the curi- 


cms name of Alkalurops, of Arabic origin, but said b 
Allen to be an adaptation of the Greek name K< 
XaOpoi/r, meaning club. The staff, or crook, in the rigl 
hand is marked by a row consisting of Psi (^), Delt 
(5), Mu (ji), and Nu (*>), with smaller stars amon 

In all, Bootes contains one star of the first magn 
tude (and above), one of the second, five of the thin 
nine of the fourth, and twenty-four of the fifth. The] 
are, of course, many of the sixth magnitude, but tl 
constellation covers a space so large that as a who. 
it does not greatly impress the eye. 

Its mythology is interesting. According to sorr 
of the Greeks, it represented Icarius, the father ( 
Erigone. Others said that it represented Erichthoniu 
the inventor of chariots; still others that it was tt 
son of Zeus and the nymph Callisto, who was change 
into Ursa Major through Hera's jealousy. It WE 
also sometimes called Areas, the son of Zeus and Ca 
listo. Ovid identifies Arctophilax, one of the earl 
names of the constellation, with Areas. Arctophila 
was the Bear Watcher. According to Lockyer, th 
star Arcturus was one of those to which Egyptia 
temples were oriented. In Dr. Seiss's system of go* 
pel mythology, Bootes represents the Great Shej 
herd and Harvester of Souls, and he manages to trac 
this prophetic meaning back through all the Orients 

Mention has already been made of the beauty c 

the double star Mirac, or Epsilon Bootes. The mag 

nitudes are third (or two and a half) and sixth ; dij 

tance, 2". 6; colors, bright orange and brilliant emei 



aid. Delta is double; magnitudes, three and a half 
and eighth; distance, no"; colors, white and pale 
lilac. Mu is triple; magnitudes, fourth, seventh, and 
eighth; distances, 108" and i". Iota is double; 
magnitudes, fourth and seventh; distance, 38". 

Corona. Borealis 


When Bootes is on the meridian, the beautiful 
Northern Crown, Corona Borealis, is seen just to the 
east of it. It is one of the constellations which every- 
body recognizes as bearing a resemblance to the ob- 
ject for which it is named, for it is indeed a crown, or 
circlet, of stars, set with a central gem, and so mani- 
fest to the eye that nobody ever sees it for the first 
time without an admiring exclamation. The circle 
of stars is not complete, but the whole outline is at 
least suggested, while what may be called the front 
of the crown resembles a diadem in the regular ar- 
rangement of its stars. The brightest of these, " the 
Pearl of the Crown," is Alphacca, or Alpha (a), of be- 
tween the second and third magnitude. It is some- 
times called Gemma Coronae, or simply Gemma. 
Five fourth-magnitude stars unite with Alphacca to 
form the curve of the front, or southern half, of the 
crown. There is one other fourth-magnitude star at 
some distance towards the north, and scattered over 
the constellation there are six stars of the fifth magni- 
tude. In 1866 a new star, as bright as the Pearl 
itself, suddenly appeared near the eastern edge of the 


crown. It soon faded, but is still visible with tele- 

This constellation has been known from remote 
antiquity. It was called by the Greeks Ariadne's 
Crown, placed among the stars in memory of the un- 
fortunate daughter of Minos, who, after giving Theseus 
the clew to the Cretan labyrinth, as well as her heart, 
was deserted by the faithless hero. Apollonius oJ 
Rhodes, in his Tale of the Argonauts, represents the 
heroes who sailed with Jason in search of the Gold- 
en Fleece as watching this constellation while the} 
crossed the Pontus Euxinus: 

. . . the immortals divine 
Loved well that maid. In the midst of the firmament i: 

set her sign, 

A crown of stars, which they name Ariadne's diadem, 
All night circling amidst of the signs that the heavens begem 

Way's Translation. 

Plutarch has a story that, after the desertion o: 
Theseus, Ariadne espoused Bacchus, who gave hei 
a crown of seven stars, which, upon her death, was 
translated to the sky. 

And there that crown by sheeny Dionysus fixed, 
Monument of dead Ariadne. 


The star Gamma (7) is a famous binary; magni- 
tudes, fourth and seventh; distance (1907), 0^.63 
Zeta is double ; magnitudes, fourth and fifth ; distance 
6". 3; colors, white and blue-green. 

Ursa, Minor 


Ursa Minor, the Lesser Bear, is the polar constella- 
tion par excellence, and is seen on the meridian above 
the pole in the evenings of June. Since its most con- 
spicuous star marks very nearly the exact north pole 
of the heavens, it has been an object of observation, 
and more or less of veneration, in all the northern 
hemisphere. As the figure of the imaginary bear is 
always drawn, the North Star, Polaris, represents the 
end of its long tail, by which it swings about the axis 
of the sky. The stars in this figure form the outline 
of a dipper with its handle bent the wrong way, and 
this is often called the Little Dipper. Its bowl hangs 
down towards the handle of the Great Dipper in Ursa 
Major. The constellation contains two stars of the 
second magnitude, one of the third, three of the 
fourth, and four of the fifth. The pole-star is the 
Alpha (a) of the constellation, but it is rivalled in 
brightness by Beta (), or Kochab, in the bowl of 
the Dipper and in the flank of the imaginary bear. 
Alpha was called in Greece Phcenice, because the 
Phoenicians used this star to guide them in naviga- 
tion. Its virtually fixed position in space (it is now 
less than one degree and a quarter from the true pole) 
makes it a universal sign-post for wanderers both by 
land and sea. 

On thy un altering blaze 
The half-wrecked mariner, his compass lost, 


Fixes his steady gaze, 

And steers, undoubting, to the friendly coast; 
And they who stray in perilous wastes by night 
Are glad when thou dost shine to guide their footsteps righi 

W. C. Bryant. 

In the days of American slavery Polaris was th 
star of stars for escaping slaves who sought to fm< 
their way at night towards freedom and the Nortt 
Although, in consequence of the Precession of the Equi 
noxes, Polaris was more than twelve degrees from th 
true pole in the days of Hipparchus, even then it serve 
to indicate the north point. It is still approachin 
the pole, and will be within half a degree of it les 
than two centuries hence. After that it will recede 
and in the course of some eleven thousand years wi' 
be fifty degrees distant from the pole. While th 
Phoenicians used Polaris, or perhaps the whole cor 
stellation, for their guide at sea, the Greek sailor 
seem to have employed Ursa Major for a similar pui 
pose. Thus Aratus says : 

The name of one is Cynosura, 
Of the other Helice. By Helice Greek 
Seafarers learn what way to steer their ships, 
The other guides Phoenicians o'er the main. 

Helice, it will be remembered, was the Create 
Bear; Cynosura was the Lesser Bear. 

The star Kochab, or Beta, in the bowl of the Littl 
Dipper, is the rival of Polaris in brilliancy, but it di; 
fers strikingly in color. Polaris is white, or yellowis 
white, and Kochab is reddish. The nearest neighbc 
to Kochab, Gamma, is of the third magnitude. Th 


stars forming the back part of the bowl and the handle 
are of the fourth magnitude. 

In Greek mythology Ursa Major and Ursa Minor 
were sometimes regarded as the two bears fabled to 
have nursed Zeus on Mount Ida. Zeus changed his 
nurses into nymphs, and then, instead of marrying 
them, translated them to the stars. 

... If tales are true, 

Crete was their home ere, by great Zeus's will 
They climbed the sky, because the baby Zeus 
On Ida's mount, by aromatic Dictus, 
In secret cavern they nurtured for a year. 


In Babylonia it was called the Leopard, and in 
Egypt the Jackal of Set, or Sati. In Scandinavian 
mythology it was the Throne of Thor! The Finns 
alone among Northern nations, Mr. Allen remarks, 
called it the Little Bear. In China Polaris has been 
from ancient times an object of worship. The Rev. 
Joseph Edkins, in his Religion in China, quoted by 
Dr. Warren in his Paradise Found (an attempt to 
prove that the cradle of the human race was at the 
north pole), says: 

I met, on one occasion, a school-teacher from the neigh- 
borhood of Chafoo. He asked if I had any books to give 
away on astronomy and geography. . . . The inquiry was 
pxit to him: "Who is the Lord of heaven and earth?" He 
replied that he knew none but the Pole-star, called in the 
Chinese language Teen-hwang-ta-te, the Great Imperial Ruler 
of Heaven. 

The North American Indians are said to have fig- 


ured this constellation as a bear, but Dr. Seiss will 
have no bear there. For him Ursa Minor is, and al- 
ways has been, a sheepfold, and he tries to show that 
such was the meaning of the ancient names given 
to it. 

Among the telescopic objects of Ursa Minor, Polaris 
takes the first place. In the days of small telescopes 
it was the universal test for the optical qualities of a 
glass. One that would show the companion of the 
pole-star could be accepted without question. The 
component stars are of magnitudes second and ninth ; 
distance, 18^.5; colors, yellowish white and dull blue. 
The large star is a spectroscopic binary. 



Between the two Bears curls Draco, the great 
Dragon of the North. It winds around three sides of 
the pole, and consequently occupies several months 
in crossing the meridian, for any fixed hour of the 
night, but it may best be described in this chapter. 

The head of the imaginary dragon is at this time 
some 35 east of the pole, while the end of its tail is 
about 10 southwest of it. Its leading star, Alpha (a), 
or Thuban, is nearly on the meridian between the 
bowl of the Little Dipper and the handle of the Great 
Dipper. About 4650 years ago Thuban was the north 
polar star, and much closer to the true pole than 
Polaris is at the present time. Then the Dragon 
whirled about the pole as if balanced at the centre 
of its body. This star is now below the third magni- 


tude, but it is believed once to have been as bright 
as Polaris. It possesses great interest because the 
mysterious central passage in the great pyramid of 
Cheops, which is 380 feet long and 4 feet by 3^ feet 
in diameter, points to the place that it occupied in 
the sky when it was the pole-star. It is thought that 
the star could then be seen by day as well as by night 
from the bottom of the passage, which is situated in 
a small chamber carved out of the solid rock deep 
beneath the foundation of the mighty pile. 

The brightest star in Draco is now Gamma (7), or 
Eltanin, in the head. Beta (#), or Rastaban, and Xi 
(I), also in the head, are of the third magnitude, and 
their neighbor, Nu (i/), is of the fourth. Starting with 
the head, whose principal stars form a striking lozenge 
or diamond shaped figure with the star Iota (i) in 
Hercules, the eye can easily trace out the coiling 
figure of the Dragon, running first northeastward, 
then northward, then southward, then westward be- 
tween the Bears, the end of the tail finally twisting 
towards the pole from the northwest. Over this long, 
winding course are distributed the third - magnitude 
stars Delta (8), Zeta (f), Eta (77), Iota (*), Alpha (a), 
Kappa (K), and Lambda (X). 

There is, perhaps, no constellation to whose stars so 
many individual names have been given. The Arabs 
had names for all of its brighter stars, usually signi- 
fying goats or camels. Gamma is the most interesting 
because it was an object of temple worship in early 
Egypt, where it was known under the name of Isis. 
The temple of Hathor, at Denderah, and that of Mut, at 
Thebes, were so oriented that this star shone through 


their central passage into the "holy of holies." Long 
afterwards it served for the orientation of the great 
temple at Karnak. Seven other temples, according 
to Lockyer, were oriented to it. At Karnak its slen- 
der light-beam passed between magnificent walls and 
columns extending over fifteen hundred feet in length 
before it was led to the altar. When the precession 
of the equinoxes shifted its place of rising, the posi- 
tion of the axes of the temples was changed in order 
still to escort its sacred ray. 

In astronomical history Gamma Draconis is inter- 
esting as having been the star which led Bradley to 
his discovery of the aberration of light, a phenomenon 
which first attracted his attention in 1725. As Lock- 
yer has remarked, the Egyptian priests, in shifting 
the axes of their massive temples to follow this star, 
had evidence of the precession of the equinoxes, and 
may be regarded as its discoverers long anterior to 
Hipparchus. But, if so, they seem to have had no 
scientific understanding of it. 

Draco contains one star of near the second mag- 
nitude ; nine of the third, or under ; six of the 
fourth, or less ; and twenty - five of about the 

The religious importance of the constellation in 
Egypt has already been indicated. In Greek my- 
thology it was sometimes identified with the dragon 
that guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides, 
and sometimes as the dragon associated with the 
Golden Fleece, which was killed by Cadmus, aided 
by Athene, and whose teeth when sown sprang up 
as armed men. Jason obtained some of these teeth, 


and, under the direction of Medea, first sowed and 
then reaped them to win the Golden Fleece: 

Then bent he his knees till supple they grew, and he filled 

with might 
His great heart, battle-aflame as a boar when he whetteth 

for fight. 
Now by this was the harvest of earth-born men over all that 

Upspringing, and all round bristled with thronging shield on 

And with battle-spears twy-pointed, and morions glorious 

The garth of the death-dealing war god, the splendor thereof 


Apollon-ius, The Argonauts. 

Yet another Greek legend averred that this was the 
dragon that Athene whirled into the sky when the 
Olympian gods made war on the earth-born giants, 
and there it became entangled with the axis of the 
heavens. Do not these antique tales take a stronger 
hold on the imagination when the memory of them is 
thus inscribed in the stars? As was quite to be ex- 
pected, some have seen in Draco the Serpent that 
tempted Eve, and Dr. Seiss avers that the constella- 
tion was never meant to symbolize anything other 
than the "Old Serpent" of the Scriptures, the general 
enemy of mankind. 

The star Mu (/i) is double; magnitudes, fifth and 
fifth; distance, 2". 4 In the double Eta the com- 
ponents are of the third and the tenth magnitudes; 
distance, 4". 7. Epsilon (e) is double; magnitudes, 
fifth and sixth; distance, 33". 





THE ninth constellation of the zodiac, and one of 
the most striking figures among the stars, Scorpio, 
the Scorpion, trails alorig the southern horizon on a 
clear summer night, stretching the stumps of its sun- 
dered claws towards Libra, very conspicuous in the ab- 
sence of full moonlight on account of the splendor of 
its chief star, Antares, or Alpha (a) Scorpionis, one of 
the reddest stars visible to the naked eye. Its color 
is that of flame, and it differs in tint from both Betel- 
geuse and Aldebaran. The flame-like character of 
the light of Antares was recognized by the Chinese, 
who called it the Great Fire. The name Antares has 
been derived from the Greek avn-Kp^, denoting some 
association, or contrast, with Ares, or Mars, the name 
borne from antiquity by the ruddy planet that circles 
between the earth and Jupiter. It is one of the four 
"Royal Stars," which have already been mentioned. 
It is generally represented as shining in the heart of 
the Scorpion, or where the heart may be supposed to 
lie, and its Arabian name was the Scorpion's Heart. 

= 2/5", (5 -+35". 

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Antares is rendered, if possible, more conspicuous 
by two small stars standing like guardians, one on 
either side of it. These stars, Sigma (<r) and Tau (T), 
are of about the third magnitude. Two second-mag- 
nitude stars northwest of Antares, Beta (yS), or Graf- 
fias, and Delta (8), or Al Jabhab, with a third-magni- 
tude one, Pi (TT), below them, mark the front of the 
Scorpion's head. The tail, beginning with Epsilon 
(e), drops down to the horizon, then turns eastward, 
and finally curves upward again, terminating in a con- 
spicuous pair of stars, Lambda (\) and Upsilon (u), 
the first of the third and the other of the fourth mag- 
nitude. All told, Scorpio has one star of the first 
magnitude, two of the second, seven of the third, 
eight of the fourth, and ten of the fifth. The eastern 
part of the constellation is immersed in the Milky Way, 
near its brightest portion, where it falls behind the 
southern horizon in vast flaky clouds of pale luminosity. 

Scorpio, in Greek fable, was the scorpion that stung 
Orion's heel when he was battling with the Lernaean 
monster. Aratus speaks of "the fiery sting of the 
huge portent, Scorpio, in the south wind's bosom." 
It may have been the color of Antares which led the 
old alchemists to believe that iron could be trans- 
muted into gold only when the sun shone in the sign 
of Scorpio. But the astrologers did not regard it as a 
fortunate sign; quite the contrary, indeed, for it was 
said to have been the birthplace of the baleful planet 
Mars, and his "house" 

Bright Scorpio, armed with poisonous tail, prepares 
Men's martial minds for violence and wars. 


His venom heats and boils their blood to rage 
And rapine spreads o'er the unlucky age. 


From the "ancient mysteries" Dr. Seiss demon- 
strates, to his satisfaction, that Scorpio was intended 
to prefigure the great conflict for the salvation of man- 
kind, and he tries to identify it with the mysterious 
Chambers of the South of the Book of Job. 

Scorpio offers a splendid object for the telescope 
in Antares, a double star of singular beauty. The 
magnitudes are first and seventh; distance, 3"; 
colors, fiery red and bright emerald. I know no 
more attractive object for a good telescope of four or 
five inches' aperture. The astronomer O. M. Mitch- 
ell once saw the little green star emerging from 
behind the moon, during an occultation, ahead of its 
great red comrade. Antares belongs to the third type 
of stars, in which the absorbing envelopes have be- 
come so dense that they are fast approaching ex- 
tinction. Sigma is double; magnitudes, fourth and 
ninth; distance, 22"; colors, white and plum-blue. 
Beta is a very beautiful double; magnitudes, second 
and sixth; distance, 13"; colors, white and pale blue. 
The larger star is again double; distance, i" '. Xi () 
is triple; magnitudes, fifth, fifth, and seventh; dis- 
tances (1906), o".28 and 7". Nu (i>) is also triple; 
magnitudes, fourth, seventh, and seventh; distances, 
40" and i ".8. Rather less than half-way on a line 
from Antares to Beta is a celebrated star cluster, 
No. 4173 (80 M.). Herschel thought it the richest 
mass of stars in the heavens. In 1860 a new star 
appeared in this cluster, but lasted for only about a 
month. It was bright enough nearly to extinguish 
the cluster by its overpowering brilliancy, although it 


never became brighter than the sixth magnitude. It 
is a comparatively recent discovery that new and 
variable stars are especially abundant in dense 
clusters, suggesting the idea of collisions. On the 
eastern side of this cluster is a starless spot in the 
sky, which was the first "black hole" in the heavens 
discovered by Sir William Herschel. Such openings 
abound in the neighboring constellation of Sagit- 
tarius, in the richest part of the Milky Way, and 
have given rise to interesting speculations concerning 
the "outer universe," where the blackest night seems 
to reign. 

Ophiuchus and Serpens 


These two involved constellations, which are more 
conveniently treated as one, cover a vast space in 
the sky, north of Scorpio, the extreme length and 
breadth being each about fifty degrees. They repre- 
sent a giant grasping in .both hands the coils of an 
enormous serpent, whose upraised head is seen just 
under the Northern Crown. The right leg of Ophiu- 
chus is immersed to the knee in a branch of the Milky 
Way, above the tail of the Scorpio, while his left foot 
is planted over Antares. The head of the giant is 
marked by a lone star of the second magnitude, Al- 
pha (a), or Ras Alhague. The third-magnitude stars 
Beta () and Pi (?r) indicate the shoulders. Eta (?;), 
in the right knee, is of near the second magnitude, 
and Zeta () , in the left knee, of the third. Two third- 
magnitude stars forming a conspicuous pair, Epsilon 
(e) and Delta (8) , mark the left hand where it grasps 

8 IO5 


the serpent. Although Ophiuchus is not a zodiacal 
constellation, a part of it lies across the ecliptic be- 
tween the depressed tail of Scorpio and Sagittarius, 
so that the sun is in this constellation in the latter 
part of November and the beginning of December. 

The head of Serpens is well marked by a group of 
of five stars, one of the third, two of the fourth, and 
two of the fifth magnitude, which form an irregular 
quincunx. Below these are Delta (8), of the third 
magnitude; Alpha (a), or Unukalhai, of rather less 
than the second magnitude ; Epsilon (e) , of the third ; 
and Mu (/*), of the third. The figure of the Serpent 
then blends with that of Ophiuchus, reappearing east- 
ward of the giant, where it has one star of the third 
magnitude, Eta (77), and one of the fourth, Theta (0), 
which indicates the end of the tail. Alpha is in the 
Serpent's neck, and is sometimes called Cor Serpentis. 
All told, Ophiuchus and Serpens contain three stars 
generally ranked as of the second magnitude, twelve 
of the third, twelve of the fourth, and thirty-four of 
the fifth. Lying in a rich region of the heavens, they 
possess numerous stars of the sixth magnitude. 

In Greek mythology Ophiuchus was the great phy- 
sician ^Ssculapius, to whom Socrates, about to die, 
requested his friends to offer a cock. The legend 
relates that Pluto, the god of the nether regions, be- 
came alarmed at the cures of yEsculapius, who even 
brought the dead to life, and persuaded Zeus to re- 
move him from the earth to the sky, where he could 
do no more harm. Not only the cock but the serpent 
was sacred to ^sculapius in fact, the serpent was his 
favorite ; hence the presence of Serpens with him in the 


sky. In the Middle Ages, Ophiuchus was sometimes 
regarded as symbolizing Moses with the Brazen Ser- 
pent. Serpens was also identified with Eve's tempter 
in the Garden of Eden. For Dr. Seiss, Ophiuchus 
represents the Great Physician who was to heal the 
woes of mankind. 

Ophiuchus and Serpens contain many interesting 
telescopic objects. The star 36 Ophiuchi is double; 
magnitudes, fifth and eighth; distance, 4". 3; colors, 
yellow and red. Lambda (\) Ophiuchi is a close doub- 
le; magnitudes, fourth and sixth; distance, i". Tau 
(r) Ophiuchi is double; magnitudes, fifth and sixth; 
distance, i".8. The star 70 Ophiuchi is a binary, with 
a period of 95 years. The magnitudes are fourth and 
sixth ; distance (1907), 2" '.75. This star is one of those 
whose parallaxes have been calculated with some de- 
gree of accuracy. Its distance appears to be about 
one and a quarter million times the distance of the 
sun. Ophiuchus contains many small globular star- 
clusters. The great new star of 1604 appeared in 
this constellation. Beta Serpentis, of the third magni- 
tude, has a ninth-magnitude companion, distant 30". 
Reversing the usual order, the colors in this case are 
bluish for the large star and yellowish for the small 
one. Theta Serpentis is double; magnitudes, fourth 
and four and a half; distance, 21". 



North of Ophiuchus, with his feet towards the pole 

and his head towards the south, kneels Hercules, " one 

of the oldest sky figures," says Mr. Allen, "although 

not known to the first Greek astronomers under that 



name." The ancients seem, indeed, to have felt that 
there was an unexplained mystery connected with 
this constellation : 

Near to the Dragon's head, in toil-spent posture, 
Revolves a phantom, whose name none can tell, 
Nor what he labors at. They call him simply 
The Man upon his Knees. His knees seem bent 
In desperate struggle, while from both his shoulders 
His hands are high uplifted and outspread 
As far as he can stretch. His right foot's sole 
Is planted on the crest of the coiled Dragon. 


The constellation is not conspicuous by any es- 
pecial brilliancy or striking arrangement of its stars, 
yet it has borne many names among many nations 
from the remotest antiquity. One is tempted to 
think that some primeval legend was attached to it, 
only indistinct memories of which have come down 
into historic time and been preserved. Some have 
thought that it represented the Chaldean Ishdubar, or 
Nimroud, who slew the dragon Tiamat. In Phoenicia 
it is said to have represented the god Melkarth. It 
was also, at different times, identified with Ixion, 
with Prometheus bound, and with Theseus. Finally 
all the world settled down to the belief that it was 
Hercules, or Herakles, translated to the stars. Era- 
tosthenes seems to have been the first to fix this 
name upon it. Some of the inventors of Bible star 
myths supposed that it represented Adam. But 
others made the twins in Gemini Adam and Eve. Dr. 
Seiss says: 



Here is the figure of a mighty man, down on one knee, 
with his heel uplifted as if wounded, having a great club in 
one hand and a fierce three-headed monster held fast in the 
other, whilst his left foot is set on the head of the great 
Dragon. Take this figure according to the name given it 
in the Egyptian hieroglyphics, and you have a picture of Him 
who cometh to bruise the Serpent and destroy the works 
of the devil. In the head of this figure is a bright star, 
the brightest in this constellation, which bears the name of 
Ras-al-gethi, which means the Head of Him which Bruises, 
whilst the name of the second star means The Branch Kneel- 
ing. The Phoenicians worshipped this man five generations 
before the time of the Greeks, and honored him as repre- 
senting a Saviour. 

The star Alpha (a) is, as Dr. Seiss says, named Ras- 
al-gethi. It is of the third magnitude, and makes a 
wide pair with Alpha Ophiuchi. Beta (ft), of rather 
above the third magnitude, bears the name Korne- 
phoros. The most striking figure in the constellation 
is a large trapezium marked out by the stars Eta (77) , 
Zeta (), Epsilon (e), and Pi (TT). 

The constellation Hercules indicates the general 
direction towards which the solar system is flying 
through space at a speed of about twelve miles per 
second. This motion, as far as has been ascertained, 
is in a straight line, no proof of curvature having 
been discovered. But Hercules is so distant that the 
solar system, if its great journey should be unswerv- 
ingly pursued, would require more than 125,000 years 
to arrive in the neighborhood of the nearest star of 
the constellation. 

Nearly on a line between Eta and Zeta Hercules, 
and about one-third of the distance from the former 


to the latter, a faint speck, barely visible to a good 
eye, but easily noticeable with a strong opera-glass 
or field-glass, indicates the location of one of the 
supreme wonders of the universe the Great Star 
Cluster in Hercules (No. 4230, or M 13). Its glory, of 
course, is only to be seen and appreciated with the 
aid of a powerful telescope, but a knowledge of its 
situation in space cannot but interest everybody. I 
recall a night spent with Prof. E. E. Barnard under 
the dome of the great Lick telescope, when we looked 
into the heart of this amazing telescopic globule of 
stellar atoms, and seemed to see it resolved into 
separate but innumerable stars to its very centre. 

There is no way to describe such a spectacle! It 
arouses and at the same time daunts the imagination. 
One can find no words for it. More than twice as 
many stars as the sharpest eye can see in the whole 
heavens northern and southern hemispheres both 
included are there packed into a space so small to 
our eyes that it would not make a visible speck on 
the face of the moon. It is, perhaps, idle to speculate 
on the way in which those thronging suns came to be 
associated in that manner. There they are a per- 
petual challenge to man to declare, if he knoweth, 
"the ordinances of Heaven !" 

Hercules is full of beautiful double stars. Kappa, 
of the fifth magnitude, has a seventh - magnitude 
companion at a distance of 31". The colors are light 
yellow and pale red. In Gamma, another double, 
the magnitudes are third and ninth; distance, 38''. 
Alpha is a charming telescopic object; magnitudes, 
third and sixth; distance, 4". 7; colors, orange and 


green. Delta combines a pale green with a purple 
star; magnitudes, third and eighth; distance, 19". 
Zeta is a close binary; magnitudes, third and sixth 
or seventh; distance (1907), i".2$. The period of 
revolution of these stars is 35 years. Rho (p) is a 
beautiful double; magnitudes, fourth and sixth; dis- 
tance, 3^.7 ; colors, both green or blue, but differing 
in tone. The double 95 is perhaps the most remark- 
able of all in its colors. The magnitudes are fifth 
and five and a half ; distance, 6" ; colors, according to 
the Rev. T. W. Webb, light apple-green and cherry- 





T^O lie on the warm sands of a south-fronting sea- 
1 coast, or on the deck of a transatlantic liner, 
on an August evening, and watch the Milk Dipper 
in Sagittarius ladling the golden flood of the Milky 
Way, is a summer-night's pleasure which reserves its 
full enjoyment for those who know the constellations. 
Sagittarius, the Archer, is the tenth constellation of 
the zodiac, and, like Scorpio, lies low on the southern 
horizon when seen from median northern latitudes. 
It has no star of the first magnitude, and only one 
approaching the second, but the presence of the 
Milky Way, branching on all sides in luminous deeps 
and shallows, lends a certain splendor to the con- 
stellation through which it flows. Sagittarius is full 
of star-clusters, two of which are visible to the naked 
eye M 24 and M 25. The former, which is two or 
three times as broad as the full moon, resembles a 
projection at the edge of the Milky Way. The Milk 
Dipper, with its short handle, is outlined by the stars 
Zeta (), Tau (T), Sigma (o-), Phi (</>), Lambda (X), 


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Chart VIII 

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and Mu (^} . Zeta, Sigma, Lambda, and Delta (B) in- 
dicate the upturned bowl of a larger dipper, of which 
Gamma (7) may be taken for the stump of a handle 
on the west. The figure of the Archer is not so evi- 
dent. Sigma, the brightest star in the constellation, 
shines in the shoulder, Zeta in the upper part of the 
arm, while Delta and Gamma indicate an arrow about 
to be shot westward from a bow, the outline of which 
is traced by Lambda, Delta, and Epsilon (e). Eta 
(77), below Epsilon, is in the lower half of the bow, 
and Mu in its upper tip. Just above this tip glows 
the splendid cluster M 24. The head of the Archer is 
marked by a group of five stars ten degrees east of M 24, 
of which the brightest, Pi (TT) , is of the third magnitude. 

The Alpha (a) and Beta (/3) of the constellation, not 
as bright as some of the stars in the Milk Dipper and 
Bow, lie too far south to be seen from the United States. 
For this reason a part of the hind-quarters and the 
legs of the Centaur appear to be cut off in our figure. 

This Archer is fabled to have been one of the Cen- 
taurs who was killed by Herakles for attacking his 
bride. Herakles had poisoned his arrow with the 
blood of the Lernaean monster, so that the Centaur 
could not recover from the wound, although Zeus was 
his friend and ^Esculapius his physician. But Zeus 
did not forget to translate him to the sky: 

Midst golden stars he stands resplendent now, 
And thrusts the Scorpion with his bended bow. 


In China this constellation was figured as a tiger, 
but the ancients in general regarded it as representing 


a bowman. With the Jews it was the bow of Ephraim 
and Manasseh. Dr. Seiss calls it " a pictorial prophecy 
of our blessed Lord." There is another Centaur in the 
southern hemisphere of the sky, the mythology of which 
has sometimes been confused with that of Sagittarius. 
The telescopic riches of Sagittarius are especially 
remarkable, as already indicated, for the beautiful 
star-clusters that they include. Some of these clus- 
ters are more wonderful in photographs than they ap- 
pear in the best telescopes. One of Barnard's photo- 
graphs shows, in the cluster M 8 (also visible to the 
naked eye as a glimmering speck), a strange black 
hole opening out like a window into starless space 
beyond. The cluster appears to be made up of a 
curious assemblage of star-clouds and nebulae. 

Scutum Sobieskii 


The little constellation called Sobieski's Shield was 
formed by Hevelius in honor of John Sobieski III., 
King of Poland. It contains one fourth and five fifth 
magnitude stars, which Hevelius regarded as "un- 
claimed" by the ancient constellation - makers. It 
lies between the head of Sagittarius and the tail of 
Serpens, and is interesting only for its star - clusters 
and for the brilliancy of the Milky Way within its 
boundaries. Sir William Herschel estimated that it 
contained more than 300,000 stars. 

One of its star-clouds, visible to the naked eye, has 

been photographed by Barnard, and its richness is 

beyond all belief. It looks like a gathering of fiery 

cirrocumuli, and yet it consists of nothing but stars. 




Northeast of Scutum Sobieskii flies Aquila the 
Eagle. The lower part of this constellation is some- 
times called Antinoiis, a name said to have been 
given to it by the Emperor Hadrian in honor of his 
favorite attendant, who was drowned in the Nile, 
and in the representation of whose youthful beauty 
sculptors afterwards contended so industriously that 
they filled the Roman world with his statues, vying 
in grace with some of the work of their masters, the 
Greeks. Aquila is plainly marked for the naked eye 
by its chief star, Altair, Alpha (a), and its two 
attendants placed one on either side like those of 
Antares. Altair is of near the first magnitude; one 
of its attendants, Gamma (7), is of the third magni- 
tude, and the other, Beta (/3), of the fourth. Two 
other third-magnitude stars, Delta (8) and Lambda 
(X), lie in a line extending towards Scutum Sobieskii. 
Altair is in the neck of the eagle, and Zeta (), of the 
third magnitude, in its tail. The star Theta (0), of 
the third magnitude, is in one of the hands of An- 
tinous. A more evident representation of a spread 
eagle would be made by taking Altair for the head, 
Zeta and Theta for the tips of the wings, and Delta 
for the tail. The Milky Way is brilliant in Aquila. 

Aquila appearing before the sun late in the year was 
regarded by the ancients as a harbinger of tempests 

. . . dangerous when he rises 

Before the dawn, the eagle of the winds men call him. 



This constellation and Lyra, on the other side of 
the Milky Way, are associated with the curious Chi- 
nese legend of the Spinning Damsel and the Magpie 
Bridge, which is also found in Korea. The story 
varies, but in substance runs as follows: A cowherd 
fell in love with the Spinning Damsel. Her father, 
in anger, banished them both to the sky, where the 
cowherd became Aquila and the Spinning Damsel 
Lyra. But with that tender regard for romance which 
characterized the ancient powers that translated peo- 
ple to the stars, the angry father decreed that the 
lovers should meet once a year if they could con- 
trive to cross the river the Milky Way. This they 
were enabled to do with the aid of their friends, the 
magpies, who still once a year, on the seventh night 
of the seventh moon, congregate at the crossing-point 
and form a bridge over which the lovers pass. At the 
end of twenty-four hours the bridge breaks up, the 
magpies return to earth, and the lovers must wait an- 
other year before meeting again. In Korea, if a mag- 
pie is seen about its usual haunts at this time, the 
children stone it for shirking its duty when it ought 
to be helping to form the bridge for the lovers in the 

As Lafcadio Hearn found this story during his resi- 
dence in Japan, it seemed to him to be the origin oi 
the festival called Tanabata, always distinctively a 
woman's holiday from the earliest times. The name 
of the Spinning Damsel was Orihim6, another form oi 
Tanabata, and her lover was a peasant lad who, driv- 
ing an ox, one day passed her loom and instantly wor 
her heart. In the sky the lovers are known as the 


Herdsman and the Weaver, and the popular legend 
associated with the Tanabata festival avers that their 
meeting can be observed by anybody with good eyes, 
for whenever it occurs the lovers' stars burn with five 
different colors. That is why offerings of five colors 
are made by the celebrants, and why the poems which 
are composed for the occasion are written on paper 
of five different tints. The legend goes on to say that 
if rain falls on the seventh night of the seventh moon, 
the meeting cannot occur, because the heavenly river 
rises and becomes too broad to be spanned by the 
Magpie Bridge. For this reason rain on the Tanabata 
night is called the Rain of Tears. 

In Greece and Rome, Aquila was the sacred bird of 
Jove. Dr. Seiss, connecting it with the little constella- 
tion of Sagitta the Arrow, close at hand, regards it as 
symbolical of the Wounded Prince, or Christ suffer- 
ing for mankind. 

Pi (TT) Aquilas is double; magnitudes, sixth and 
seventh; distance, i".6. Eta (77) is a remarkable 
variable, changing from magnitude three and a half 
to magnitude four and a half, and back again, every 
seven days, four hours, and fourteen minutes. 



The little constellation of the Arrow lies north of 
Aquila, and consists of a striking row of fourth and 
fifth magnitude stars running east and west about 
ten degrees. Small as it is, Sagitta is an ancient 
asterism known to the Greeks. Aratus, referring to 
the arrow of the Archer, says: 


Another arrow flies on high 

Launched by no bow. Near it to the north 

Flies the Bird. 

This bird is not Aquila, but Cygnus, to be describee 
later. Eratosthenes made Sagitta the arrow of Apol- 
lo, but others before him had identified it with one 
of the arrows of Herakles shot against the Stym- 
phalian birds. Julius Schillerius, in the seventeenth 
century, in his Cesium Stellatum Ckristianum, repre- 
sented Sagitta as the Spear of the Crucifixion, which 
recalls Dr. Seiss's idea about Aquila mentioned above 

The star Delta (8) is double ; magnitudes, fifth and 
ninth; distance, 8". 6. 



Just on the meridian northwest of Aquila shines one 
of the most superb of all the first-magnitude stars, 
Vega, or Alpha of the Lyre (Alpha Lyrae), of which 
Burritt justly says: "The remarkable brightness oi 
a Lyrae has attracted the admiration of astronomers 
in all ages." 

The constellation Lyra is not large, but there are 
few which more quickly arrest the attention. 

I saw, with its celestial keys, 
Its chords of air, its frets of fire, 
The Samian's great ^olian lyre, 
Rising thro' all its sevenfold bars 
From earth unto the fixed stars. 

Longfellaiv, Occupation of Orion. 


This refers to the old Greek legend associating the 
harp in the stars with the magic instrument with 
which Orpheus charmed stones and trees, and in- 
vaded the infernal regions in search of his lost Euryd- 
ice. With the Persians it was also a lyre. The an- 
cient Britons called it King Arthur's Harp. 

The principal star, Alpha (a), or Vega, derived 
from Wega, a malformed Arabic word, first received 
the name it now bears in King Alfonso's stellar tables. 
In magnitude it equals Arcturus and Capella, being 
only three -tenths of a magnitude below the zero 
rank. The brilliancy of its blue-white rays is aston- 
ishing, and their color is beautifully revealed in a 
telescope. Perhaps it approaches nearer to the idea 
of "a diamond in the sky" than any other star. Its 
actual magnitude is very great, probably a hundred 
times that of the sun. It belongs to the Sirian type, 
being young in the order of evolution. Two little 
stars of between the fourth and fifth magnitudes, 
Epsilon (e) and Zeta (), form a beautiful little tri- 
angle with Vega, by means of which the beginner 
may always recognize the latter. Beta (yS) and Gam- 
ma (7), about eight degrees below Vega, are of the 
third magnitude, and mark the top of the strings of 
the imaginary harp, whose base is towards the north. 

About fourteen thousand years ago Vega was the 
north polar-star, and, in consequence of the precession 
of the equinoxes, it will occupy the same position 
about eleven thousand years hence. It is now more 
than fifty degrees from the pole. According to some 
recent estimates, the apex of the Solar Way that is, 
the direction of the motion of the solar system is 


towards Lyra. In that case, half a million years from 
now the earth may find itself in the presence of a 
mighty blue- white sun, a hundredfold more brilliant 
than its present orb of day. The parallax of Vega is 
about o'.i, and the amount of light that it sends us 
from its present distance is about one forty-thousand- 
millionth of that received from the sun. 

Lyra contains one star of the first magnitude, one 
of the third, five of the fourth, and eight of the fifth. 

The ancient mythology of Lyra has already been 
indicated. In Dr. Seiss's system it symbolized the 
rejoicing in heaven at the final victory over the 
powers of evil, and, after his way, he traces this 
meaning through all the antique legends concerning 
the Harp. 

Vega has a tenth-magnitude companion, distance, 
48", which is a well-known test for telescopes of 
moderate power. Epsilon is a celebrated quadruple 
star. An opera -glass, and some eyes without op- 
tical aid, separate it into two nearly equal stars al- 
most touching each other. A small telescope divides 
each of these into two, between 2" and 3" apart. A 
more powerful glass shows two faint stars between 
the pairs. These faint stars were called by Sir John 
Herschel the debillissima. Zeta is also double ; mag- 
nitudes, fourth and sixth; distance, 44". Beta is 
variable, losing and regaining one entire magnitude 
in a period of twelve days, twenty-one hours, and 
forty-seven minutes. On a line between Beta and 
Gamma, and about one-third of the distance from the 
first to the second, is found the celebrated Ring 
Nebula, which a three-inch telescope will show as a 
faint, minute circle, like a little smoke ring. This ring 
has about one-thirtieth the apparent diameter of the 



full moon to the naked eye. Recent photographs of 
this object reveal it as a most wonderful ring of in- 
ter-twisted spirals. In the centre is a small star of 
surprising actinic power, since it appears a hundred 
times more conspicuous in a photograph than in a 




CAPRICORN, the Goat, is the eleventh constella- 
\^4 tion of the zodiac. Its two leading stars, Alpha 
(a) , or Algiedi, and Beta (/3) , or Dabih, are seen just west 
of the meridian at nine o'clock on the isth of Septem- 
ber. Before the precession of the equinoxes had car- 
ried the signs of the zodiac westward out of the con- 
stellations with which they were formerly identified 
(the motion amounts to a little more than 50" per 
year), the sun was in Capricornus at the time of the 
winter solstice. This is the origin of Aratus's lines 
in the Phainomena : 

. . . Capricorn, the goal that turns the sun. 
Be it ne'er thy lot in that month to be tossed 
On the mid-ocean ; neither by day 
Far sailest thou, for few the hours of light, 
Nor early on thy peril breaks the dawn, 
For all thy invocations. Pitiless 
Siroccos lash the main when Capricorn 
Lodges the sun, and Zeus sends bitter cold 
To numb the frozen sailors. 

Poste's translation. 

a - ios; 6-- 



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Chart IX 





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At present the sun does not touch the constellation 
Capricornus until the middle of January, but the de- 
scription of the kind of weather prevailing at sea 
when the sun is in Capricornus will still hold good, 
as transatlantic travellers know to their cost. Zeus 
has not forgotten how to plague the sailors, and Nep- 
tune is unabashed by turbines. 

Capricornus is not very well marked out as a figure 
among the stars. Alpha and Beta, of the third mag- 
nitude, are in the head of the goat, and Delta (8), of 
the same magnitude, is in the hind-quarters. There 
are, besides, seven fourth and ten fifth magnitude 
stars scattered over the constellation. 

In Grecian "mythology Capricornus occupied a con- 
spicuous place as the Gate of the Gods, it being fabled 
that the souls of men passed through its stars on their 
way to a better scene. Berosus, who, it will be re- 
membered, predicted the destruction of the earth by 
water, when all the planets should assemble in Cancer, 
declared that the globe would be burned with fire 
when a similar conjunction should take place in Capri- 
corn. So Berosus, after the manner of his astrological 
brethren, even to the present day, took good pains to 
provide for contrary events in his prognostications. 
He would not let mankind escape either way. 

According to another legend, Capricornus represents 
Pan, who one day, in a frolicsome mood, and he was 
seldom long in any other, jumped into the Nile and 
transformed himself, for the amusement of the on- 
looking gods, into a kind of amphibious monster, the 
part of his body under the water assuming a fish- 
shape, while that above water looked like a goat. 


Zeus was so delighted that he decreed that this form 
should be translated to the stars, whence the ancient 
representation of Capricornus as a cross between a 
goat and a fish. But Dr. Seiss brings us back to a 
serious view by averring that the Goat-Fish shines 
among the stars as a symbol of sacrifice and atonement. 
Both Alpha and Beta are naked -eye doubles at 
least, Alpha is easily seen double, its two stars being 
6' apart, while an exceptional eye may catch a glimpse 
of the sixth-magnitude star within 3^' of Beta. Each 
of the stars in Alpha is telescopically double. In a 1 
the magnitudes are fourth and eighth (distance 44"), 
and in a* third and tenth or eleventh (distance, 7". 4). 
A little group of fifth and sixth magnitude stars be- 
low Beta, in the mouth of the Goat, forms a pretty 
sight. One of these, Rho (p), is an attractive double; 
magnitudes, fifth and eighth; distance, 3". 8. Three 
of the other stars in this group are also doubles. 



A part of the next zodiacal constellation, Aquarius, 
lies north of the eastern half of Capricornus, but we 
shall come to this later. At present we lift our eyes 
higher towards the north, where, just east of Sagitta, 
we see the remarkable little constellation Delphinus 
(the Dolphin), popularly known as Job's Coffin. Two 
stars of the third, two of the fourth, and one of the 
fifth magnitude crowded closely together mark out 
an irregular oblong figure, which is prolonged towards 
the south by another star of the fourth, one of the 
fifth, and three of the sixth magnitude. The curved 


outline of a dolphin, with its head uppermost, is not 
difficult to trace. 

The tiny Dolphin floats o'er Capricorn, 
His middle dusky, but he has four eyes, 
Two parallel to two. 


Greek fable asserted that this constellation repre- 
sented the dolphin that bore Arion safe to land after 
the sailors had thrown him overboard in the Gulf of 
Corinth. The scene of this adventure was certainly 
well chosen, for the Gulf of Corinth seems to swarm 
with dolphins. I remember one sunshiny morning 
entering the port of Itea on the way to Delphi, when 
our litt!e steamer seemed to be escorted by dolphins, 
whose graceful bodies, visible in the translucent sea 
at a great depth, rose in an endless procession to 
throw glittering curves on the surface of the water 
at either side of the ship. 

Another ancient myth associates Delphinus with 
Amphitrite, the nereid whom a dolphin carried to 
Neptune to become his bride. 

The star Gamma (7) is a very charming double; 
magnitudes, fourth and fifth; distance, n"; colors, 
gold and emerald. Both Alpha and Beta have faint 
companions, and the larger star in Beta is a binary 
whose components are only separable with very pow- 
erful telescopes. 



The little constellation of Equuleus, the Foal, south- 
east of Delphinus, is interesting to possessors of good 


telescopes on account of its many close double and 
triple stars; but to the naked eye it offers no attrac- 
tion, having but one star as bright as the fourth mag- 
nitude. It is, however, an ancient constellation, and, 
lying close by the head of Pegasus, was mythological- 
ly associated with the winged horse, some asserting 
that it represented the brother of Pegasus, ridden by 
Castor, and others that it was the horse that sprang 
forth from the rock which Neptune struck with his 
trident when he and Athene were trying to outdo 
each other in Olympian magic. 



North of Delphinus and Sagitta lies another small 
constellation, Vulpecula, the Little Fox. It is one 
of Hevelius's constellations, and is too inconspicuous 
to deserve notice if it were not included in all celes- 
tial charts and star catalogues. Although it is 35 
long from east to west, and about 10 broad, it has 
only one star approaching the fourth magnitude in 
brightness. Telescopically it is interesting for con- 
taining the celebrated Dumb-bell nebula first seen by 
Lord Rosse with his gigantic six-foot reflector, but 
much more fully revealed in modern photographs. Its 
photographic appearance is rather that of an hour- 
glass, and it looks as though two enormous masses 
were gradually separating, very much as the moon 
and the earth are supposed to have separated when 
their originally combined mass was in a plastic state. 



Again we come to one of the great figures in the 
stars which everybody can recognize at a glance the 
Northern Cross in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan. 
The form of the cross is evident; that of the swan 
may be recognized as soon as the fact is pointed 
out that the long beam of the cross indicates the 
out-stretched neck of the bird, flying south westward, 
while the branches of the cross-arm represent the 
out-stretched wings. 

Before the time of Eratosthenes (third century B.C.) 
the name of this constellation among the Greeks was 
simply the Bird. Thus Aratus wrote: 

For heaven's floor has a fleet-winged Bird; 

Airy his body, his wings roughened 

With stars, not largest sized and yet not dim, 

Exulting in the blue deeps of the sky, 

Down the gale westward floating, his right pennons graze 

The right hand of Cepheus, 

His left the feet of prancing Pegasus. 

Posters translation. 

It was also called the Hen, and in some old celestial 
charts is represented by the figure of a motherly barn- 
yard fowl. 

Its leading star, Alpha (a), or Deneb, is sometimes 
ranked of the first magnitude, although its actual 
brightness is considerably less than the standard. It 
is a sun of the Sirian type and of great magnitude. 
The star Beta (/3), or Albireo, in the foot of the cross, 


or the beak of the swan, is one of the most beautiful 
doubles known. It is a very easy object to view, 
even a strong binocular or field-glass serving to re- 
veal the fact that the star is duplicate. The smallest 
telescope at once splits it up into a third and a sev- 
enth magnitude star, 34" apart, the former light yel- 
low, the latter deep blue. The color of the blue star 
is so pronounced and the contrast is so beautiful that 
the effect produced upon the eye recalls that of a pair 
of skilfully combined gems. Albireo is a favorite show 
object for all possessors of small telescopes who in- 
vite their friends to look at the beauties of the heavens. 
It resembles "a picture with a story" in a connois- 
seur's collection everybody can appreciate it. 

Another very famous object in Cygnus is the little 
star 61, long known as the nearest star in the northern 
hemisphere. Its parallax is about o".4, and, unlike 
the other stars that we have compared in actual brill- 
iancy with the sun, it is relatively insignificant. It 
would take ten stars like 61 Cygni to equal the sun. 
The components are both of the sixth magnitude, and 
their distance apart is about 20", so that the smallest 
telescope suffices to separate them. 

The Milky Way passing through Cygnus adds to 
the beauty of the constellation, and there are many 
splendid fields for the opera-glass. In the space be- 
tween Alpha, Gamma, and Epsilon there is a great 
void in the Milky Way known as the Northern Coal 
Sack, whose darkness is all the more striking on ac- 
count of the fact that between Alpha and Gamma lie 
streams of minute stars of astonishing richness and 
beauty. Cygnus is also full of nebulous clouds, some 


of which, when photographed, exhibit the most ex- 
traordinary forms and texture. Among them is one 
appropriately called the Lace Nebula. Its delicate 
streamers look like a tangle of gossamer threads 
blown by the wind, with thousands of stars sprinkled 
about them. A new star appeared in Cygnus in 1876, 
afterwards apparently changing into a nebula. 

Cygnus ha?, in all, one star of the second magnitude 
approaching the first, five of the third, fifteen of the 
fourth, and thirty -four of the fifth. Owing to its 
position in the Milky Way, its sixth-magnitude stars 
are very numerous, while for stars of telescopic mag- 
nitudes there is no richer region in the heavens. 

Among the telescopic objects of this constellation 
besides Albireo and 61 Cygni, already described, may 
be mentioned Delta (S), a double of magnitudes third 
and eighth; distance, i".6. Psi (ijr) consists of a 
white star of magnitude five and a half, combined 
with a lilac star of magnitude seven and a half, the 
distance being 3". Mu (/A), of magnitude five, has a 
blue companion of magnitude six, at a distance of 





FOR some reason all of the ancients imagined that 
the part of the sky occupied by Aquarius, the 
Waterman or Water-bearer, and its neighboring con- 
stellations contained a celestial sea. Ideler has un- 
dertaken to find a reason for this in the fact that 
the sun passes through that part of the heavens dur- 
ing the rainy season of the year. The constellation 
Aquarius has been represented by virtually the same 
figure from the days of ancient Babylon. A man is 
seen pouring water from an urn. An Egyptian le- 
gend averred that the floods of the Nile were caused 
by the Water-bearer sinking his huge urn into the 
fountains of the river to refill it. 

Aquarius is the twelfth constellation of the zodiac, 
lying immediately east of Capricornus, but curving 
round on the north of the latter to the border of 

The constellation is not remarkable to the eye, as 
it contains no stars brighter than the third magnitude. 
There are four or five of about that rank: Alpha (a), 

a . ISO", rt--8 c 

&> CT.\I Xt 

190 CTM 

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Chart X 



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or Sadalmelik; Beta 09), or Sadalsuud; Epsilon (e), 
or Al Bali, and Delta (8), or Scheat. The larger part 
of the constellation lies south of the ecliptic, and the 
sun only passes through its narrower northern portion, 
although through the centre of the figure. Alpha is 
in the right shoulder, and Beta in the left, while 
Gamma, with a group of smaller stars near it, marks 
the overturned urn. These stars form a rather singu- 
lar Y-shaped figure, or a triangle, with a relatively 
bright star within it, by which the constellation may 
readily be recognized. 

In Greek mythology Aquarius represented Gany- 
mede, the cup-bearer of the gods. It was also identi- 
fied with Deucalion, who, like Noah, escaped from a 
universal deluge and finally came to dry ground on 
the top of Mount Parnassus. Aquarius is Dr. Seiss's 
symbol in the stars of Him who said, " If any man 
thirst let him come unto me and drink." 

Zeta () Aquarii is a beautiful binary ; magnitudes, 
fourth and fourth ; distance, 3" ; color of both stars, 
pale green. Psi (-Jr) is double; magnitudes, fourth 
and eighth ; distance, 50" ; colors, yellow and blue. 

Piscis Australts, or Austrinus 


Below Aquarius the eye is caught by a conspicuous 
and lone first-magnitude star named Fomalhaut, or 
Alpha (a) of Piscis Australis, the Southern Fish. This 
fish is very distinctly marked out by Fomalhaut and 
six or seven smaller stars arranged in a long oval on 
the west. Fomalhaut is in the fish's mouth. It is 


one of the four Royal Stars, important to navigators, 
and gains much by its solitary situation. Flaming 
above the southern horizon on a chilly autumn night, 
it attracts a degree of attention that would not 
be paid to it if it occupied a place in some richer 
region of the sky. It is like a distant watch-fire 
gleaming in the midst of a lonely prairie. 

In the traditional figure of this constellation the 
fish is represented as drinking the water poured out 
of the urn of Aquarius. Besides the two names given 
at the head of this section, it is also sometimes called 
Piscis Meridionalis and Piscis Notius. A Greek legend 
associated it with the story of Venus' s adventure on 
the banks of the Euphrates with the giant Typhon, 
when, to escape, she changed herself and Cupid into 
fishes. Dupuis identified it with the Syrian god 
Dagon. Dr. Seiss sees in it a symbol of the mystic 
union of Christ with His Church. 



The great winged horse Pegasus is seen flying 
westward through the sky above Aquarius and the 
western fish in Pisces. This constellation, howev- 
er, bears no resemblance to the outlines of a horse, 
and strikes the eye only by a large quadrangular fig- 
ure called the Great Square of Pegasus. Three of 
its stars are of the second and one of the third 
magnitude. Beginning at the lower western corner 
of the square and running round towards the left, 


they are: Alpha (a), also called Markab; Gamma 
(7), also Algenib; Delta (8), also Alpheratz; and 
Beta ($), also Scheat. Delta, or Alpheratz, is com- 
mon to the constellations Pegasus and Andromeda, 
and is sometimes assigned to one and sometimes to 
the other. When counted as an Andromede, it bears 
the Greek letter alpha (a), implying its leadership in 
that constellation. This star, with Gamma, or Al- 
genib, to the south, and Beta Cassiopei to the north, 
forms the line of the Three Guides, thus named be- 
cause they lie very nearly on the prime meridian of 
the heavens, which passes through the vernal equi- 
nox, or first point of Aries, about 15 south of Al- 
genib. The broad area of sky included within the 
square seems singularly devoid of stars. In a space 
of more than two hundred square degrees there are 
only six stars as bright as the fifth magnitude. But 
the square, large as it is, covers only the eastern 
third of the constellation. The nose of the imaginary 
horse is forty degrees west of Alpheratz, outstretched 
as if to touch the foal Equuleus. The star marking 
the nose, Epsilon (e), bears the name Enif, derived 
from an Arabic word for nose. 

The mythology of Pegasus is associated with one 
of the most interesting of the ancient legends of 
Greece that of the birth of a white-winged horse 
from the blood of Medusa dropping into the ocean. 
This horse became the favorite of the Muses because 
from his hoof -print gushed their fountain on Mount 
Helicon. On another occasion when he touched the 
earth his magic hoof left a fountain called the Hip- 
pocrene; on the rocky hill of Acrocorinthus, and mod- 


ern travellers may still see this fountain full of wa- 
ter on the very crest of the vast rock which towers 
eighteen hundred feet above the neck of the Isthmus 
of Corinth. The figure of Pegasus is found on Corin- 
thian coins five hundred years before the Christian 
era. Longfellow represents the magic horse as pay- 
ing an unexpected visit to a quiet New England vil- 
lage and being put into the pound as an astray: 

And the curious country people, 
Rich and poor and young and old, 

Came in haste to see this wondrous 
Winged steed, with mane of gold. 

On the morrow, when the village 

Woke to all its toil and care, 
Lo! the strange steed had departed, 

And they knew not when or where. 

But they found upon the greensward, 
Where his struggling feet had trod, 

Pure and bright a fountain flowing 
From the hoof-marks in the sod. 

Pegasus in Pound. 

One of the old legends asserts that Pegasus, while 
visiting the earth, was caught by Bellerophon, who 
rode him through the air when he went to slay the 
Chimaera. This angered Zeus, who hurled Bellero- 
phon from his seat after the conquest of the Chimaera, 
and never permitted Pegasus to stray earthward again 
until the time of Longfellow, when there were no 
longer any heroes to ride him and when only poets 
could appreciate him. Dr. Seiss assures us, with 


learned comments on the ancient names of this con- 
stellation and its stars, that Pegasus was meant to 
signify the Messenger of Glad Tidings. 

The star Epsilon is double; magnitudes, second 
and eighth; distance, 138"; colors, yellow and violet. 
Sir John Herschel discovered a curious telescopic ex- 
periment which may be tried with Epsilon Pegasi. 
When the star is on the meridian the small component 
is below the brighter one. If, then, the tube of the 
telescope is swung a little from side to side, the small 
star will appear to vibrate like the bob of a pendulum. 
The suggested explanation is that the relative faint- 
ness of the small star causes it to affect the sense of 
vision less promptly than the bright one above it, so 
that it lingers behind in the apparent motion, and 
thus it seems to be swinging to and fro with reference 
to the other. 



Directly north of Pegasus, and just on the me- 
ridian, we find the small constellation Lacerta, the 
Lizard. Hevelius formed it in the seventeenth cen- 
tury. It contains two stars of the fourth magnitude 
and ten of the fifth, but, although retained on all celes- 
tial charts, it possesses almost no interest, even for 



Between Lacerta and the pole lies the first of a 
series of . constellations, sometimes called the Royal 


Family, and which commemorates the most roman- 
tic of all the legends of ancient times inscribed in the 
stars the story of Andromeda and her rescue from 
the sea-monster. 

This constellation, which contains no star much 
above the third magnitude, has, nevertheless, attract- 
ed attention from the beginning of recorded history. 

Nor shall blank silence whelm the harassed house 
Of Cepheus. The high heavens know their name, 
For Zeus is in their line at few removes. 
Cepheus himself by she-bear Cynosure, 
lasid king, stands with uplifted arms. 


The adjective "lasid" refers to lasion, the son of 
Zeus and Electra, from whom Cepheus was supposed 
to be descended. Cepheus was the King of Ethiopia, 
his wife was the celebrated Cassiopeia, and his daugh- 
ter was the still more celebrated Andromeda. Their 
story will better be told in the next chapter. An 
association has been suggested, through the simi- 
larity of names, between Cepheus and Cheops, the 
builder of the Great Pyramid. Allen says that in 
China the Inner Throne of the Five Emperors was 
located somewhere in this constellation. For Dr. 
Seiss the story of Cepheus and his constellation rep-i 
resents the coming of the Redeemer as king. 

The star Alpha (a), of between the second andj 
third magnitudes, bears the name Alderamin, and! 
marks the right shoulder. This will be the north-pole 
star for our descendants about 5600 years hence. 

Beta (/3), Alfirk, is a telescopic double; magni- 


tudes, third and eighth: distance, 13"; colors, white 
and blue. Delta (8) is double ; magnitudes, four and 
a half and seventh; distance, 41"; colors, yellow and 
cerulean blue In the double Xi () the magnitudes 
are fifth and seventh; distance, 5" 8; colors, white 
and blue or lilac. The star Mu (^) is famous as Sir 
William Herschel's "garnet star." Its color, evi- 
dent with a glass, is sensible to the naked eye. It 
is a variable, changing from the fourth to the sixth 
magnitude in a period of five or six years. Many 
small meteors radiate from Cepheus during the mid- 
dle and latter part of June. 





PISCES, the Fishes, is the leading constellation of 
the zodiacal circle, the precession " of the equi- 
noxes having brought it into the position originally 
occupied by the first sign of the zodiac viz., Aries. 
The vernal equinox, or the point where the sun crosses 
the equator coming northward in the spring, is situated 
in Pisces. This is the "Greenwich of the sky," from 
whose longitude the right ascension of all the stars 
is reckoned. It is, of course, a crossing-point of the 
ecliptic and the equator, but this important spot is 
not marked by any conspicuous star, nor even by any 
noticeable grouping of stars. 

It may be well to say here that usually a distinction 
is observed in speaking of the zodiacal signs and the 
zodiacal constellations, the former, notwithstanding 
their westward drift, indicating the true divisions 
of the zodiac, while the constellations change their 
places on this framework. Reckoned in this way, 
Pisces is the first constellation of the zodiac, since it 

-260". 6-+ 8. 

m CT.MT #0 







Chart XI 

CT.W 2 








?/ / 


now occupies the place of the first sign; Aries is the 
second, Taurus the third, Gemini the fourth, Cancer 
the fifth, Leo the sixth, Virgo the seventh, Libra the 
eighth, Scorpio the ninth, Sagittarius the tenth, Capri- 
cornus the eleventh, and Aquarius the twelfth. 

The constellation Pisces is inconspicuous to the 
eye, but it occupies an enormous territory, some fifty 
degrees from east to west, and more than thirty de- 
grees in its extreme north and south extension. The 
two fishes are represented as tied by the tails to the 
ends of a long ribbon, the course of which is fairly 
well marked by streams of stars, only one of which, 
occupying a knot near the middle of the ribbon, rises 
to the third magnitude. This is the Alpha (a), or 
leader, of the constellation, and is often called Al 
Rischa, and sometimes Nodus. There are eleven 
fourth-magnitude stars in the constellation, and eigh- 
teen of the fifth magnitude. Professor Sayce thinks 
that the double form of this constellation owes its 
origin to the extra month which was inserted into the 
Babylonian calendar every six years to make up for 
the fact that the year was divided into three hundred 
and sixty days. Like Piscis Australis, this constella- 
tion was associated with the story of Venus changing 
herself and Cupid into fishes to escape the pursuit of 
Typhon. Aratus's description of Pisces indicates that 
in his time the representation of the two fishes was 
the same as in our charts : 

Westward, and further in the south-wind's path, 
The Fishes float; one ever uppermost 
First hears the boisterous coming of the north. 
Both are united by a band. 


Their tails point to an angle 

Filled by a single goodly star, 

Called the Conjoiner of the Fishes' Tails. 

The Phainowiena. 

Three conjunctions of the planets Jupiter and 
Saturn took place in Pisces in the year which was 
formerly assigned as that of the birth of Christ, and 
this has led to much mystical speculation concerning 
the Star of Bethlehem. Mr. Allen remarks that the 
conjunctions just spoken of strikingly agree in some 
of their details with St. Matthew's account of the 
mysterious star. Kepler, and Encke long after him, 
advocated the idea that this was in reality the celes- 
tial sign followed by the magi, but the revision of 
the Christian era throws the date of the conjunctions 
four years out. In 1881 Jupiter and Saturn were again 
in conjunction in Pisces, and the fact was not lost 
sight of by those (and they were not few, even in this 
age of science) who thought that that year was the 
epoch of the new dispensation and the sign of the 
millennium. Piazzi Smyth's curious measurements in 
the passages and chambers of the Great Pyramid, and 
the still more curious conclusions that he drew from 
them, added force to the superstition with which the 
advent of the year 1881 was greeted. Dr. Seiss 
avers that Pisces symbolizes " the two-foldness of the 

The star Alpha is a beautiful double; magnitudes, 
fourth and fifth ; distance, 3" ; colors, greenish- white 
and blue. The star 55 is double; magnitudes, fifth 
and eighth; distance, 6". 6; colors, yellow and deep 
blue. Psi (i/r) consists of two fifth-magnitude stars; 


distance, 30". In the double Zeta () the magnitudes 
are fifth and sixth; distance, 24". 



Lifting our eyes directly overhead, we see the 
Chained Maiden, Andromeda. The constellation is 
centrally on the meridian at nine o'clock in the mid- 
dle of November. If Orion is the most brilliant of the 
constellations, Andromeda is the most romantic. It 
requires some effort to recognize the form of the 
celebrated heroine among the stars, but her story 
shines by reflection in all literatures. 

The fact has already been mentioned that the star 
Alpheratz, in the northeastern corner of the Great 
Square of Pegasus, indicates the head of Andromeda. 
Three other conspicuous stars, the first of the third 
magnitude and the other two of the second, stretch- 
ing in a long row northeastward from Alpheratz, 
mark the central line of the constellation. The first of 
these stars, Delta (8), is in the left breast; the second, 
Beta OS), or Mirach, is in the girdle; and the third, 
Gamma (7), or Almaak, marks the left foot, or left 
knee, according as the figure is drawn. A group of 
three fourth - magnitude stars and one of the fifth 
magnitude, about fifteen degrees north-northwest of 
Alpheratz, shows the right hand chained to the rock, 
while the left elbow is indicated by a fourth-magni- 
tude star about eight degrees below Delta. North- 
west of Mirach are two fourth-magnitude stars, also 
in the girdle, which serve as pointers to the glori- 


ous Andromeda nebula, which may be caught as a 
mere wisp of light by the naked eye. It is near the 
northernmost of the two stars. Photographs of this 
nebula present a spectacle that defies description. 
It consists of a vast oblong central mass, the outer 
portion of which shows longitudinal gaps, and in one 
part a breaking -up into cumuli, while all around 
are ranged, ring within ring, great luminous ellipses, 
some of which seem to be contracting into globular 
forms. If Laplace could have seen these photographs 
he would have thought that the heavens had pro- 
duced for him an irrefragable witness to the truth 
of his nebular hypothesis of the origin of worlds. 
More truly descriptive of this nebula than of the con- 
stellation (although he did not know it) is Kingsley's 

Spreading thy long white arms all night in the heights of the 

A new star blazed out in the nebula in 1885, and 
remained visible with telescopes for a year. 

Although the Greek poetess Sappho referred to 
Andromeda, and although both Euripides and Soph- 
ocles wrote dramas about her, we must probably, 
says Mr. Allen, seek her origin far back of classical 
times, in the valley of the Euphrates. 

The myth of Andromeda relates that she was the 
daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia, king and queen 
of Ethiopia. Cassiopeia offended Neptune by boast- 
ing herself as fairer than the sea -nymphs, and he 
sent a sea-monster to ravage the kingdom. An ap- 
peal was made to the oracle of Zeus at Ammon, but 


the only relief obtained was a decree that the king- 
dom should be saved if the Princess Andromeda were 
given as a prey to the sea-monster. She was taken to 
the sea-shore and chained to a rock. The location is as 
fleeting as that of Shakespeare's island in " The Tem- 
pest," but Josephus declared that in his time the marks 
of Andromeda's chains were to be seen on the rocks 
near Joppa, and that near by on the shore the bones 
of the sea-monster were still shown. Awaiting her 
fate, and abandoned by her royal relatives, Androm- 
eda remained by the shore until a rushing sound 
and the flight of frightened birds told her that the 
monster was approaching. She hid her eyes, trem- 
bling, when suddenly, 

Like peal of thunder from unclouded sky, 
A sudden neighing rolls and echoes nigh. 
Her eyes unclose ; horror and joy are one, 

For she beholds, in whirling flight and free, 
The winged horse, upbearing Zeus's son, 

Throw his vast shade of azure on the sea. 

It was Perseus, mounted on Pegasus, returning 
from the conquest of the Gorgon Medusa. His dia- 
mond-hilted sword glittered as he darted upon the 
monster and transfixed him. But, according to some 
accounts, he only gained the victory by holding before 
the eyes of the monster the bleeding head of Medusa, 
the sight of which, with its snaky locks, froze all who 
looked upon it into stone. 

The sea -monster having been destroyed, Perseus 
unchained the maiden and conducted her back to 
her father's court. The reward of his valor was the 


traditional one in all such cases he received the 
hand of the rescued maiden in marriage. 

When the happy lives of all the actors in this drama 
were ended, Zeus, not sorry, perhaps, to thwart Nep- 
tune, played his customary part by translating them 
to the stars : 

And there, a woful statue form, is seen 

Andromeda, parted from her mother's side. Long, I trow, 

Thou wilt not seek her in the nightly sky, 

So bright her head, so bright 

Her shoulders, feet, and girdle. 

Yet even there she has her arms extended, 

And shackled, even in heaven; uplifted, 

Outspread eternally, are those fair hands. 


But other poets assert that Zeus was so delighted 
with the triumph of his son that he did not wait for 
death in this case, so that Perseus and Andromeda 
had the peculiar happiness of seeing their new-made 
constellations blazing overhead, as, on Pegasus's 
back, they flew away from the scene of the encounter. 

The splendent winged horse in noiseless flight, 
From out his nostrils blowing clouds of fume, 
Bears them, with quivering of his every plume, 
Across the starry ether and blue night. 
Like two enormous cloaks the wind swells wide 
The pinions, which, as through the stars they glide, 
Keep the clasped lovers nested from the cold, 
While as their throbbing shadows they descry, 
From Aries to Aquarius they behold 
Their constellations flaming in the sky. 

Jos6 M. Heredia ( Taylor's trans.). 


Having thus, as it were, seen their own obituaries 
spread upon the evening edition of The Universe by 
the hand of Jove himself, they retired to Queen Cas- 
siopeia's court, and to their first-born was given the 
name Perses, from whom the proud Persian kings, 
many centuries afterwards, boasted their descent. 

In Dr. Seiss's mythology Andromeda and Cassiopeia 
were both intended for prophetic symbols of the Chris- 
tian Church. 

The star Gamma, in the maiden's foot, is perhaps 
the most beautiful triple star in the heavens. Any 
fairly good telescope shows that it consists of a golden 
yellow and a deep-blue star, of magnitudes third and 
sixth, 10" apart, but a very powerful glass shows 
that the smaller star is itself double, having an eighth- 
magnitude companion, which has sometimes been 
described as green. This is a binary pair, and the 
distance, in 1907, was o".48. In 1893 it was only 
o".i 7 . 



Zeus gave to Andromeda's mother a more beautiful 
constellation than that which he assigned to her. It 
lies between the constellations of Andromeda and her 
father, Cepheus, and is conspicuously marked by five 
bright stars forming an irregular letter " W," with the 
open part turned towards the pole. It is situated on 
the opposite side of the pole from the Great Dipper, 
so that when one rises the other sinks, and vice versa. 
These stars are Alpha (a), Beta (/8), Gamma (7), 
Delta (8), and Epsilon (e). A straight line drawn 


from Zeta () Ursas Majoris through Polaris hits 
Delta Cassiopeiae. The true pole is situated about a 
degree and a quarter from Polaris on the side towards 
Ursa Major. Thus the position of the pole can be 
ascertained with approximate accuracy at any hour 
of the night. 

Some of the Greeks called the constellation the 
Laconian Key, from the peculiar shape of the figure 
already described. This is the origin of Aratus's de- 
scription : 

Heaven-troubled queen, with scanty stars, 

But lustrous in the full-mooned night, sits Cassiopeia. 

Not numerous, nor double-rowed, 

The gems that deck her form, 

But like a key which through an inward-fastened 

Folding-door men thrust to knock aside the bolts, 

They shine in single zig-zag row. 

The Phainomena. 

Several of the stars in the "W," or the Key, have 
individual names. Alpha is Schedar, Beta is Caph, 
and Delta is Ruchbar. Theta (0) in the queen's el- 
bow is Marfak. The fourth-magnitude star Kappa 
(K) is interesting as indicating the place in the sky 
(about i north of Kappa) where the famous new 
star of Tycho Brahe suddenly blazed out in the year 
1572. This was one of the most brilliant temporary 
stars on record, and attempts have been made to 
associate it with the Star of Bethlehem, on the sup- 
position that it appeared in 945 and 1264, and has, 
therefore, a period exceeding three centuries, so that 
one of its epochs of visibility would fall about the 


time of the birth of Christ. But it has never been 
seen since it faded from sight in Tycho's day, al- 
though a small telescopic star close to the place which 
it occupied has been suspected of identity with it. 
This star is the Al Aaraaf of Edgar Allan Poe's poem: 

Dim was its little disk, and angel eyes 
Alone could see the phantom in the skies 
When first Al Aaraaf knew her course to be 
Headlong thitherward o'er the starry sea. 

Beta and Gamma are of the second magnitude; 
Alpha, Delta, and Epsilon of the third. In all, Cas- 
siopeia contains two stars of the second magnitude, 
three of the third, six of the fourth, and twenty-one 
of the fifth, or near. 

The constellation is rich in telescopic objects. 
Sigma (?) consists of two stars, one blue, the other 
greenish; magnitudes, fifth and seventh; distance, 
3". Eta (77), of magnitudes fourth and seventh, con- 
sists of a white and a purple component; distance, 
5". Iota (t) is a beautiful triple; magnitudes, fourth, 
seventh, and eighth; distances, 2" and 7". 5. There 
are many telescopic star-clusters in the constellation. 





A^IES, the Ram, is the second constellation of the 
zodiac. As before remarked, Aries is the first sign, 
and this sign has now drifted back into the constella- 
tion Pisces. The Ram is a small constellation, only 
some twenty-five degrees in its extreme length, lying 
between the northern fish of Pisces and the Pleiades 
in Taurus. Two stars in the head, Alpha (a), or 
Hamal, and Beta (ft), or Sheratan, are its only con- 
spicuous brilliants. They are in the western part of 
the constellation. Gamma (7), or Mesarthim, a lit- 
tle below Sheratan, is of the fourth magnitude. The 
tail is indicated by a group of three fourth and two 
Tifth magnitude stars about ten degrees south of west 
fiom the Pleiades. 

In mythology this was the ram of the Golden 

The princely Ram, glittering in golden wool. 


He flew from Colchis with Phrixus and his sister 
Helle on his back, but Helle's head was giddied by 

340 330 




m cxif. m 


Chart XII 










the swift motion, and she fell off and was drowned 
in the narrow sea now called the Hellespont. Aries 
has also been associated with the story of the ram into 
which Zeus changed himself to escape the pursuit of 
the giants. He fled to Egypt, and there the con- 
stellation was called Jupiter Ammon. But in Chal- 
dea, where it is supposed to have had its origin, this 
celestial ram was simply representative of the favorite 
animal of the shepherds, and was selected as the 
leader of the zodiac, a position which he has ever 
since retained. The star Sheratan marked the vernal 
equinox in the time of Hipparchus. Aries bore many 
titles indicative of its rank as leader of the year in 
ancient times. It was called Prince of the Zodiac, 
Prince of the Celestial Signs, and Leader of the Host 
of the Zodiac. The history of the constellation ap- 
pears to run far back of the time when the preces- 
sion of the equinoxes had placed it at the head of the 
monthly signs. Berosus, who was priest of Belus at 
Babylon in the time of Alexander the Great, and 
whose predictions about the destruction of the world 
we have noticed, said that the ancients i. e., those 
who were ancient to him believed that the world 
was created whqn the sun was in the constellation 
Aries. This was long before Aries had assumed the 
leadership which (as a constellation, not as a sign) 
it has since lost. Dr. Seiss naturally finds in Aries 
a symbol of the Lamb of the World. What he says 
of the ancient worship of Aries is interesting: 

The Egyptians celebrated a sacred feast to the Ram upon 
the entrance of the sun into the sign of Aries. They pre- 
pared for it before the full moon next to the spring equinox, 


and on the fourteenth day of that moon all Egypt was in 
joy over the dominion of the Ram. The people crowned 
the lamb with flowers, carried him with extraordinary pomp 
in grand processions, and rejoiced in him to the utmost. 
The ancient Persians had a similar festival of Aries. For 
all this it is hard to account except in connection with what 
was prophetically signified by Aries. 

The star Gamma, or Mesarthim, was the first double 
star discovered. Robert Hooke, following a comet 
with his telescope in 1664, happened to pass over 
Mesarthim, and was astonished to see it double. The 
magnitudes are fourth and fourth; distance, 8". 5. 
Lambda is a wide double; magnitudes, fifth and 
eighth; distance, 37"; colors, white and lilac. Epsi- 
lon is a close double; magnitudes, fifth and sixth; 
distance, i".25. 



The little constellation called the Triangle, north- 
west of Aries, and near the feet of Andromeda, is very 
ancient. Aratus calls it Deltoton, from its resem- 
blance to the Greek delta (A). The corners of the 
elongated triangle are marked by the stars Alpha, 
Beta, and Delta. Beta is of the third magnitude, 
and Alpha and Delta are of the fourth. Alpha, no 
doubt, has faded. The first asteroid to be discovered, 
Ceres, was found in Triangulum in the year 1801. 



The constellation Perseus brings us back to the 
Royal Family of the sky. 



He in the north-wind stands gigantic, 

His right arm stretched towards the throne 

Where sits the mother of his bride. As one bent on some 

high deed, 
Dust-stained he strides over the floor of heaven. 


The dust that sparkles on the hero's armor consists 
of the powdered starlets of the Milky Way, which is no- 
where richer than here. Perseus was a celebrated hero 
before he rescued Andromeda. His conquest of the 
Gorgon Medusa is one of the finest stories of Greek 
mythology. The son of Zeus and Danag, he became 
the favorite of the gods. When others were contend- 
ing with rare gifts for the favor of King Polydectes, at 
whose court he lived, Perseus sought to outdo them 
all by bringing the head of Medusa to throw at the 
king's feet. It was an adventure worthy of Hercules, 
and to undertake it with any chance of success he 
had to borrow the helmet of invisibility from the god 
of the lower world, the sandals of swiftness from 
Hermes, and the buckle of wisdom from Athene. 
Furnished also with a magic sword set with dia- 
monds, and, according to some, riding Pegasus, loaned 
by Zeus, he hastened to the encounter. Even then 
he would have failed, and have been turned to stone 
by the petrifying glances of the Gorgon, had not 
Athene's polished buckle served as a mirror in which 
he could see his enemy without facing her. With a 
backward stroke he severed Medusa's terrible head, 
with its hissing snakes for hair, and was on his way 
to bestow the dreadful gift upon King Polydectes, 
when he chanced to espy Andromeda in her plight, 


and stopped for another and a more romantic ex- 

Perseus still carries Medusa's head, which is repre- j 
sented in the sky by a group of five or six stars, the 
largest of which is the celebrated Algol, the so-called 
Demon Star, or the Winking Demon, which every two 
days, twenty hours, and forty-nine minutes suddenly ! 
begins to fade away, until, in the course of three or 
four hours, it loses four-fifths of its light. A fewj 
minutes later it begins to brighten, and in the course I 
of the next three or four hours it regains all of its 
former brilliancy. When at its brightest, Algol is 
nearly of the second magnitude; when faintest, it is 
not far above the fourth. The cause of these singular j: 
variations has been shown to be an enormous darkj 
body, as large as our sun, revolving around Algol at a 
distance of only about three million miles, and regu- 
larly eclipsing it, as seen from the earth. The en- 
tire course of the changes undergone by Algol can be 
watched with the naked eye. 

Among the Hebrews, Algol was said to represent 
Adam's mysterious first wife, Lilith, but it is only a 
matter of guesswork that this identification had any 
connection with the star's strange variability. 

On February 22, 1901, a marvellous new star 
discovered by Dr. Anderson, of Edinburgh, not very 
far from Algol. No star had been visible at that point 
before. Within twenty-four hours the stranger haq 
become so bright that it outshone Capella. In 
week or two it had visibly faded, and in the course ojj 
a few months it was hardly discernible with the naked 
eye. Its decline continued, and by the end of th<) 


year it could only be seen with telescopes. The next 
year the star underwent a wondrous transformation. 
Its spectrum assumed the nebular type, and great 
nebulous rings or spirals were photographed around 
it. Still later it resumed the stellar type, and it is 
still (1908) visible as a star of the ninth or tenth 
magnitude. The career of this star recalls that of 
Tycho which blazed out in Cassiopeia in 1576. In 
both cases the collision hypothesis has been suggested 
to account for the marvel. The eccentric changes 
undergone by Nova Persei, alternately fading and 
brightening while, upon the whole, losing light 
have been regarded by some as indicating that a star 
had run into a nebula or a vast cloud of meteoric 
matter, the successive collisions producing the out- 
bursts of light. Like all variable and temporary 
stars, Nova Persei turned red as it faded. 

Algol bears the Greek letter beta (/3) in the con- 
stellation Perseus. The Alpha of the constellation is 
situated about ten degrees northerly from Algol, in 
the midst of a curved row of stars embedded in the 
Milky Way and marking the armor-clad body of the 
hero. Alpha's distinctive name is Algenib. Follow- 
ing the course of the Milky Way towards Cassiopeia, 
the eye is caught by a sparkling patch which an opera- 
glass will resolve into a swarm of minute stars. This 
indicates the hand in which Perseus bears the dia- 
mond-hilted sword. This object is sometimes called 
Chi (%) Persei. In reality it consists of two clusters 
of stars like two swarms of bees encountering in mid- 
air. They have excited the admiration of all astron- 
omers. "These two gorgeous clusters," is Webb's 


descriptive phrase ; " The glories of ^ Persei," i 
Proctor's tribute; "One of the most brilliant ob 
jects in the heavens," wrote Admiral Smyth. Si 
William Herschel here tried one of his famous "sta 
gauges," but with his most powerful telescope h 
could not reach the bottom of what seems to hav 
been regarded by him as a sort of well filled witl 
stars, for he thought that it extended out into spao 
to a depth far greater than its width. I remembe 
once showing this object with a small telescope to < 
person who had never before looked into an astro 
nomical glass, and his sudden start and exclamatioi 
of amazement were a tribute to the wonder-stirring 
power of the starry universe. 

The mythology of this constellation has already 
been sufficiently indicated. No one will be surprisec 
that Dr. Seiss makes Perseus the symbol of the Re 
deemer of mankind and the slayer of the Evil One 
the latter being represented by Algol. He derive: 
the name Perseus from a root signifying the Breaker 
and, summing up the old myths, he says: 

No natural events in the seasons or in the history of mat 
could ever serve as a foundation for such a story as this 
Here is a divine-human son, begotten of a golden shower fron 
the Deity, a child of affliction and persecution from his ver] 
birth, but predestined by the heavenly powers to live anc 
triumph. . . . He is winged, and given a diamond sword, ai 
Heaven's messenger and herald, to undo the powers of evi 
and administer deliverance and prosperity. 

The double star Eta (77) has components of magni 
tudes fourth and eighth; distance, 28"; colors, white 
and pale blue. In Epsilon (e) the magnitudes are 


third and eighth; distance, 9". The eighth-magni- 
tude star is variable, and some observers have said 
that its color changes from blue to red as it fades. 



The great constellation of Cetus, the Whale, is now 
mostly past the meridian in the south, the head, 
which is turned eastward, lying just under Aries. The 
constellation is about fifty degrees in length from east 
to west, and nearly as much in its greatest exten- 
sion north and south. Its leading star, Alpha (a), or 
Menkar, in the head, is of less than the second magni- 
tude. Gamma (7), six degrees west of it, in the di- 
rection of Alpha Piscium, is of the third magnitude. 
Some twenty-five degrees southwest of Menkar four 
third - magnitude stars, in the body of the Whale, 
mark the outlines of the upturned bowl of a dipper. 
Farther west and south is a second-magnitude star, 
Beta (/3), in the tail, which is also called Denib Kaitos. 
Much of this constellation is comparatively a blank, 
owing to the absence of conspicuous stars. Heis as- 
signs to Cetus two second-magnitude, six third-mag- 
nitude, seven fourth-magnitude, and twenty-four fifth- 
magnitude stars, but all of them, as is usual, vary 
much from the standard. 

Cetus was identified by Aratus with the sea-monster 
sent to devour Andromeda: 

And yonder, distant from her cowering form, 
The on-coming monster scares Andromeda. 


She in the blasts of Thracian Boreas 

Is stationed, while the south-wind brings her foe. 

The Phainomena. 

In earlier times it seems to have been regarded as 
some kind of leviathan without connection with the 
story of Andromeda. Allen suggests that it may 
have represented the ferocious Tiamat of the Chaldean 
myths. The creature seems about to plunge into the 
waters of the river Eridanus. In the seventeenth 
century it was considered to be a symbol of Jonah's 
whale, and also of Job's leviathan. It is hardly neces- 
sary to say that Dr. Seiss finds in it the Apocalyptic 
Dragon, "the Old Serpent which is the Devil and 

The most interesting star in Cetus is Omicron (o), 
celebrated by the name Mira, the first variable star 
ever recognized as such. Its changes were noticed 
with great astonishment by David Fabricius, an 
amateur astronomer of Germany, in 1596. Mira 
when brightest sometimes exceeds the second magni- 
tude (this occurred in December, 1906), and when 
faintest it is far beyond the range of the naked eye. 
Its average period is about three hundred and thirty- 
one days, but this period is variable to the extent of 
nearly a month. Sometimes the star fails to brighten 
when expected to do so. In the seventeenth century 
it once remained invisible for four years. General- 
ly when at maximum it does not exceed the third 
or fourth magnitude; its occasional outbursts are, 
therefore, all the more surprising. Its color, especial- 
ly when fading, is red, and its spectrum shows blaz- 


ing lines when its light is gaining. The semblance to 
a gigantic conflagration is startling. The cause of 
the variations of Mira remains unknown, but the 
phenomena most closely resemble those observed in 
temporary stars like Nova Aurigae and Nova Persei. 
Some think that Mira represents the closing stages of 

Zeta is a wide double; magnitudes, third and 
ninth; distance, 185". Gamma is a very beautiful 
double ; magnitudes, third and seventh ; distance, 3" ; 
colors, straw-color and blue. 



Argo Natis 

Sternward she glides, like to a ship whose helm 
Her crew have turned to landward, 
Coining to anchor. All the oars back water, 
Au4 lapping surges splash upon the strand. 
Thus sternward Jason's Argo makes her way, 
Spectral her frame, and starless from the prow 
To the central mast, but radiant all her after-hull. 


IN Chart XIII the whole southern hemisphere of 
the heavens is represented. The inner circle is 
placed about thirty-five degrees below the equator, 
and the constellations below or within this circle 
are circumpolar for the inhabitants of the southern 
hemisphere, and are not observable from median north- 
ern latitudes. Inasmuch as these stars are invisible 
for the majority of the readers of this book, the con- 
stellations are not represented by outlines, but their 
places and principal stars are shown. Parts of those 
lying close to the circle are visible from the Southern 
United States and Southern Europe, and they can be 
recognized by observing their position with reference 




to the well-known constellations bordering the zodiac 
and the equator. 

Thus the brilliant Canopus, in Argo Navis, which 
can be seen from the Gulf States, lies about thirty- 
five degrees south of Sinus, in Canis Major. In Greek 
mythology, Argo Navis represented the ship built by 
Argo for Jason when he sailed in search of the Golden 
Fleece. Its bow is said to have been lost in passing 
through the Bosporus, and in the sky the ship is rep- 
resented without a bow. A considerable portion of 
Argo Navis is above the horizon for Northern observ- 
ers, but the more important part of the constellation 
lies far south. It is so extensive that astronomers, for 
purposes of reference, have divided it into three parts 
viz., Carina, the Keel; Puppis, the Stern; and Vela, 
the Sail. Canopus, the Alpha (a) of the whole con- 
stellation, is in the part called Carina. This star, 
which is second to Sirius only in brilliancy, and which 
has even been thought by observers in the southern 
hemisphere to outshine the Dog Star, has attracted a 
great deal of attention recently on account of the 
enormous actual magnitude that its brightness, com- 
bined with its vast distance, shows that it must pos- 
sess. Professor Newcomb places it in what he has 
called the X class i. e., stars whose intrinsic brilliancy 
exceeds the sun's at least ten thousand times! Rigel, 
in Orion, is another star falling into this rank, but it 
does not follow that Rigel and Canopus are anything 
like equal. If Canopus is ten thousand times more 
brilliant than the sun, it is two hundred and fifty times 
more brilliant than Sirius, which equals only forty 
suns. .Sirius outshines Canopus to our eyes simply 


because it is much nearer to us. Basing the specu- 
lation on the immense magnitude of Canopus, some 
have suggested that it may be the actual centre of the 
universe, but there are no good grounds for such a 
belief. Canopus belongs to the same stellar type as 
Sirius, and shines with the same electric blue-white 

Canopus has been worshipped in many countries, 
such as Chaldea, Egypt, and China. Carlyle speaks 
of its worship by the Arabs in Mohammed's time, and 
finds an excuse for his hero to follow the example of 
his countrymen in the "wild, blue, spirit-like bright- 
ness " which the star exhibits when seen glittering 
above the sandy deserts of the South. It was Mo- 
hammed's star, as Venus seen by daylight is said to 
have been Napoleon's. 

In Egypt, Lockyer has found many temples at 
Edfu, Philse, and elsewhere oriented to Canopus 
when it rose just before sunrise at the autumnal equi- 
nox. Other temples as, for instance, two at Karnak 
pointed to its place of setting. Like Sirius, it has 
been identified with the Egyptian Osiris. 

The other conspicuous stars of Argo Navis are far- 
ther east, lying in and along the Milky Way. Of these 
the star Gamma (7), of the second magnitude, is 
notable as being the only bright star in the heavens 
which shows the Wolf-Rayet type of spectrum *. e., 
a continuous spectrum crossed by brilliant white in- 
stead of dark lines. It would seem that the atmos- 
phere of such stars must be brilliantly incandescent. 
Another notable star is Eta (?;), a most wonderful 
variable. Sometimes it becomes as brilliant as Sirius, 


at other times it is invisible to the naked eye. Its 
period of change extends over many years, and is 
very erratic. Eta is surrounded by a strange nebula, 
called by Sir John Herschel, from its shape, the Key- 
hole Nebula. This, too, like the wonderful star in- 
volved in it, appears to be variable. 

The South Pole 

Between Canopus and Lepus, below Orion, lies the 
little constellation Colomba, the Dove, or Noah's 
Dove, mentioned in a preceding chapter. This, like 
most of the southern constellations, is of modern 
origin. Some of these, such as the Flying Fish, the 
Chameleon, the Air - Pump, and the Octant, are in 
themselves hardly worth mentioning for our purposes ; 
but the Octant is interesting as being the antarctic 
equivalent of Ursa Minor, since it surrounds the south- 
ern pole of the heavens. There is, strictly speaking, 
no south polar-star, the nearest naked -eye star to 
the pole being hardly above the sixth magnitude. It 
is interesting, however, to know that when the brill- 
iant Vega becomes the North Polar Star, about eleven 
thousand years hence, Canopus will be sufficiently 
near the south pole of the heavens to serve as a south- 
ern Polaris. Another curious fact associating these 
two brilliant stars is that the point in space from 
which the proper motion of the solar system is car- 
rying us is situated not many degrees from Canopus, 
while the point towards which we are travelling is 
equally near to Vega. 



The Southern Cross 

This world-famous constellation lies exactly south 
of Crater, at a distance of about thirty degrees from 
the south pole. The precession of the equinoxes is 
carrying the Cross slowly southward, and it is a 
curious fact, to which Mr. Allen has called attention, 
that this constellation was last seen on the horizon 
of Jerusalem about the time of the Crucifixion. The 
Southern Cross did not receive its name, however, un- 
til after it had attracted the attention and excited 
the admiration of the early circumnavigators. It 
seems to have been named early in the sixteenth cen- 
tury. Dante's lines in the first canto of the " Purga- 
tory " have often been supposed to refer to this con- 
stellation (not then called the Cross), because of its 
four bright stars : 

To the right hand I turned and fixed my mind 
On the other pole, attentive, where I saw 
Four stars ne'er seen before save by the ken 
Of our first parents. Heaven of their ray, 
Seemed joyous. O, thou northern site, bereft 
Indeed, and widowed, since of these deprived. 

Carey's translation. 

Amerigo Vespucci, on his first voyage, saw the 
Cross, and exultingly wrote that he had beheld 
Dante's "four stars." As other navigators pressed 
into the Southern seas, the fame of the Croce maravi- 
gliosa, as Pigafetta called it, spread over the world. 
Pigafetta thought it more glorious than all the other 
constellations. It appeared on a celestial globe by 


Mollineux in 1592. Acosta, in his history of the 
West Indies, published in 1590, told how the Span- 
ish settlers were accustomed to use the Southern 
Cross as a clock, reckoning the hour by its inclina- 
tion to the horizon. Readers of the romance of Paul 
and Virginia will recall a reference to this use of the 
constellation of the Cross. The intensity of religious 
feeling in the time of the great geographical discov- 
eries no doubt added immensely to the interest felt 
in the Southern Cross, as well as to the appreciation 
of its beauty by those lucky enough to see it. Its 
splendor lost nothing in their descriptions, and it 
soon captured the imagination of all Christendom. 
Yet its stars had been known to the ancients when 
the constellation shone over the middle northern 
latitudes, and they had not, apparently, given it a 
separate name. It was a part of the constellation 
Centaurus in Hipparchus's time. Essentially it is a 
constellation associated with the days of discovery 
and early conquest in America. 

Thou recallest the ages when first o'er the main 
My fathers unfolded the ensign of Spain, 
And planted their faith in the regions that see 
Its imperishing symbol ever blazoned in thee. 

Mrs. Hemans. 

Its renown is still so wide that few travellers visit 
the southern hemisphere without recording their first 
impressions of this constellation. 

The Southern Cross consists essentially of four 
bright stars arranged as if at the ends of the two 
sticks of a kite, somewhat awry. The larger beam, 


about six degrees in length, points to the pole. The 
four stars are, respectively, of the first, second, second, 
and third magnitudes. The largest star, Alpha (a), 
is at the base of the figure. Gamma (7) , of the second 
magnitude, at the top of the cross, is orange-colored. 
The other stars are white. Alpha is a beautiful tele- 
scopic double. 

A famous telescopic object in the Southern Cross is 
the colored cluster surrounding the little star Kappa 
(/c). Sir John Herschel, the discoverer of this ob- 
ject, compared it to "a gorgeous piece of fancy 
jewelry," on account of the many colors displayed. 
There are several red stars, and others imitating em- 
eralds, sapphires, and topazes. Different observers 
since Sir John Herschel's time have been differently 
impressed by this curious cluster, some describing it 
as exquisitely beautiful, and others finding that the 
only colors especially noticeable are the reds. I have 
noticed a surprising difference in the eyes of persons 
observing star colors. Some, apparently not color 
blind in ordinary circumstances, can see little or no 
color in a star where it is perfectly obvious to others. 


There is a second Centaur in the southern sky, 
who, although he lacks the distinction enjoyed by 
his rival Sagittarius of belonging to the zodiacal 
twelve, makes upon the whole a more notable figure, 
although situated too far south to be seen from our 
latitudes. The constellation Centaurus surrounds the 
Southern Cross on three sides, and extends north of it 
to the coils of Hydra. It faces eastward, and is rep- 


resented as charging, with a levelled lance, either at 
the Wolf, just ahead of it, or at the more formidable 
Scorpio, farther east and north. The constellation 
is fabled to represent the Centaur Chiron, who was 
the best of his race, the favorite of Apollo and Diana, 
and the instructor of ^Esculapius in medicine and the 
chase, of Jason, and of the young Achilles, who was 
brought up under his care in a cave on Mount Pelion. 
Chiron tried to make peace between Hercules and 
the other Centaurs. Being struck by a poisoned ar- 
row, he magnanimously offered to die in the place of 
Prometheus, and the gods accepted his sacrifice and 
put him among the stars. In antiquity, Chiron was 
believed to have invented the constellations. 

Centaurus is ospecially interesting for containing 
the nearest to us of all the stars, the celebrated Alpha 
Centauri. This is a very brilliant star of nearly the 
zero magnitude, ranking next to Canopus. Its paral- 
lax is only o".75, equivalent to a distance of four and 
one-third light years, or, say, twenty-six millions of 
millions of miles. Alpha Centauri is a binary, the 
smaller star being itself almost of the first magnitude. 
Taken together, the intrinsic brilliancy of the two 
stars is four times that of the sun. The spectrum 
indicates a stage of evolution between that of Sirius 
and that of the sun. Alpha Centauri was a prominent 
object of temple worship in Egypt. 

Alpha and Beta Centauri, the latter of the first 
magnitude, make a noble pair, only about five degrees 
apart, and they are sometimes called the Southern 
Pointers, since they indicate the position of the 
Southern Cross. 


Directly south of the tail of Scorpio stands the 
celestial altar, Ara. 

About that Altar ancient Night, 
Pitying human woes in ocean storms, 
Has raised a beacon. 


The poet refers to the ancient importance of this 
constellation as a weather portent. When black 
clouds were seen at nightfall forming like smoke above 
its stars, the sailors took warning and stayed in har- 
bor. But for its antiquity the constellation would 
hardly demand notice, for its stars are few and small. 
The prominence of the name in ancient times has led 
to the suspicion that some other group of stars was, 
at first, called the Altar. Yet the constellation de- 
scribed by Aratus is the same one that bears the name 
at the present time. 

The Triangle 

The Southern Triangle is a much more conspicuous 
object in the sky than its northern namesake near 
Andromeda. It is an invention of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, like the Southern Cross, and Bayer called it the 
Three Patriarchs. One of its stars is of the second, 
and the other two of the third magnitude. In the 
Northern Triangle the brightest star is of the third 
magnitude. The Southern Triangle w r as much no- 
ticed by the early navigators in southern seas. 
1 66 

Grus and Toucan 

South of Capricornus and the Southern Fish is a 
group of modern constellations, including Grus the 
Crane, Toucan, Pavo the Peacock, and the Indian, of 
which Grus is worthy of special mention because its 
most conspicuous star, Alpha (a), of the second mag- 
nitude, can be seen from our lower latitudes flam- 
ing southwest of Fomalhaut. In former times Grus 
was a part of the Southern Fish, and then the star 
Alpha bore the name of the Bright One. Some of the 
early Spanish navigators called Grus the Flamingo, 
and they imagined it flying and striking with its long 
bill at the Southern Fish. 

Toucan contains two notable star clusters. One 
of these was described by Sir John Herschel as the 
richest and largest object of the kind in the heavens. 
A later observer, Professor Bailey, of the Cambridge 
Observatory, has counted 2235 stars in the centre of 
the cluster, several of them being variables. Variable 
stars are numerous in many other clusters. 

The second cluster in Toucan was described by Sir 
John Herschel as containing a nuclear mass of ruby 
stars at the centre, surrounded by white ones. Later 
observers have not noted the difference of color re- 
marked by Herschel. 

The Phoenix 

Southeast of Fomalhaut, and just above the hori- 
zon in the latitude of New York in the middle of 
November, may be seen the bright second-magnitude 




star Alpha (a), in the constellation Phoenix. The 
Arabs associated this constellation with the ostrich, 
but Bayer gave it the name of the Phoenix in 1603. 
Its principal star lies very close to the equinoctial 
colure, and is on the meridian with the sun at the 
opening of spring. On this account Mr. Allen thinks 
that the name Phcenix was very appropriately be- 
stowed, since the fabled Phcenix renewed its life at 
the opening of the Great Year of the ancients, begin- 
ning at noon of the day when the sun entered Aries, 
and thus the astronomical symbolism of the constella- 
tion names is, in this instance, preserved. 

The Southern Eridanus 

In describing the constellation Eridanus, the starry 
river which takes its rise from the begemmed sandal 
of Orion, it was remarked that the chief star of the 
constellation is not visible from northern latitudes. 
It is found southeast of the Phoenix, about thirty- 
two degrees from the south pole, and is one of the 
most brilliant stars in the sky, equal to Rigel, Capella, 
Vega, and Arcturus. It bears the name Achernar, 
from the Arabic, meaning the End of the River. It is 
another star of the Sirian type, and, having a very 
small parallax, must be of enormous intrinsic brillian- 
cy. In early times Eridanus was sometimes called the 
Ocean, and sometimes the River of Ocean. It has 
also at different times been identified with various 
famous rivers other than the Po. Aratus knew it 
only as the River. Thus, describing the rising of 
Cetus, he says: 



And now the River-flood's first winding reach, 
The becalmed mariner may see in heaven 
As he watches for Orion, to espy if he hath aught to say 
Of the night's measure or the slumbering winds. 

The Phainomena. 

In Egypt it was associated with the Nile, and in 
Chaldea with the Euphrates. 

The Magettanic Clouds 

Almost directly south of Achernar, and about half- 
way to the pole, in the constellation called Hydrus, or 
the Watersnake, lies the smaller of the famous Ma- 
gellanic Clouds, or Cape Clouds. This is the Nu- 
becula Minor. Its greater companion, the Nubecula 
Major, is seen in the constellation Dorado, the Gold- 
fish, half-way to Canopus. These luminous clouds, 
which resemble detached portions of the Milky Way, 
from which they are, however, far removed, excited 
the astonishment of early navigators of the southern 
oceans and shared attention with the Southern Cross. 

The Nubecula Minor is the brighter of the two, 
covering about ten square degrees on the sky. Flam- 
marion enumerates in it 37 separate nebulae, 7 star 
clusters, and 200 individual stars. The Nubecula 
Major, which is very faint in the presence of the full 
moon, contains, according to the same authority, 291 
separate nebulae, 46 star clusters, and 582 individual 
stars. It covers an area of about forty square de- 
grees. All around these singular clouds the sky is 
curiously dark and vacant, as if its contents had 
been swept into these heaps. 


The name Magellanic Clouds, or Magellan's Clouds, 
was given to them because of the description which 
the great circumnavigator furnished of these phe- 
nomena on his voyage. But they were known before 
his day, and were called the Cape Clouds on account 
of being seen by those who visited or rounded the 
Cape of Good Hope. Humboldt thought that the 
larger cloud was probably the White Ox of the Arabs, 
and he remarks that in Southern Arabia, especially 
in the interior of the country, where the atmosphere 
is very dry and the sky of a deep azure, the Magellanic 
Clouds must be notable phenomena. The singular idea 
was once entertained that these clouds were parts of 
the Milky Way which had been broken off and drifted 
away, and the gaps which they had left were even 
pointed out. There is no ground whatever for this 
notion. In their intermingling of nebulae and star 
clusters they resemble certain regions of the Milky 
Way that have been photographed by Barnard in 
the constellation Sagittarius. Photographs of the 
two clouds made by Russell in 1890 show that both 
are spiral in their general structure. In this respect 
they recall the enormous spiral nebula (invisible to 
the eye) which envelops the constellation Orion. 



T^HE true "river of the sky" is the Galaxy, or 
1 Milky Way. Even the most brilliant stars have 
not affected the imagination of mankind as has this 
mysterious circle of soft, glowing light surrounding 
the entire firmament. Its appearance on a clear, 
moonless night is calculated to impress the most 
thoughtless observer with a sense of awe and mystery, 
which becomes wonder at the illimitable extension 
of the universe when we reflect that this path 
round its borders consists of hundreds of millions of 

The first scientific demonstration of the stellar 
character of the Milky Way was given by Galileo's 
telescope, but ages before his time philosophers had 
guessed that the great luminous band was composed 
of stars. Pythagoras thought that it consisted of 
distant stars, and Democritus was of the same opin- 
ion. Aristotle followed their ideas in this, but im- 
agined that the Milky Way was the birthplace of 
comets. This conception of the stellar nature of the 
Milky Way even found its way into poetry centuries 
before Galileo. Yet, until his time, nobody knew for 
certain what was the composition of the Galaxy. 


Galileo's description of the appearance of the Milky 
Way in his little telescope is interesting : 

The next object which I have observed is the essence, or 
substance, of the Milky Way. By the aid of a telescope any 
one may behold this in a manner which so distinctly appeals 
to the senses that all the disputes which have tormented 
philosophers through so many ages are exploded at once 
by the irrefragable evidence of our eyes, and we are freed 
from wordy disputes upon this subject, for the Galaxy is 
nothing else but a mass of innumerable stars planted to- 
gether in clusters. Upon whatever part of it you direct the 
telescope, straightway a vast crowd of stars presents itself 
to view. Many of them are tolerably large and extremely 
bright, but the number of small ones is quite beyond de- 

As soon as one begins to observe the Milky Way 
with the least care, it becomes evident that it varies 
immensely in brilliancy in different places, and that 
its borders are very irregular, although upon the 
whole it pursues a fairly straight course inclined at 
an average angle of about twenty-five degrees to the 
axis of the equator. Owing to this inclination, the 
Milky Way lies in a long band along the northern 
horizon in the evenings of May, stretching from the 
western to the eastern points, while in October, No- 
vember, and December it crosses the sky between 
the zenith and the north pole like a vast arch. In 
the latter part of January this luminous arch springs 
from the horizon in the southeast, passes through the 
zenith, and reaches the horizon again in the north- 
northwest. In the middle of March it runs parallel 
with the meridian on the west, and at the end of 


July it occupies a similar position east of the meridian. 
It is at this time that its most conspicuous reaches, 
running from Cassiopeia through Cygnus and Aquila 
to Sagittarius and Scorpio, are best seen. The half 
of the Milky Way that lies south of the equator is, 
upon the whole, the most brilliant. 

The immense amount of detail that the Milky Way 
presents, and the striking variations in its appear- 
ance at different points along its course, make it well 
worth while to trace it throughout its whole extent. 
In fact, it is necessary to do so if we would form an 
idea of the "architecture of the heavens," for the 
Milky Way enters as the foundation and frame of the 
entire structure. It indicates not only the general 
shape, but the skeletal details of the vast organic whole 
which we call the universe. Sir William Herschel's 
original idea was that the Milky Way showed that the 
stellar system was shaped like a disk, the sun being 
somewhere near the centre, so that when we look out 
in the direction of the plane of the disk we see in- 
numerable stars, while when we look at right angles 
to that plane our vision ranges out into the open 
space on either side, where but few stars are to be 
seen. It was with this idea in mind that he devised 
his method of star gauging, reaching deeper and deep- 
er into space with his telescopic plummets as the size 
and power of his instruments increased. Later he 
modified his views, and approached more to the mod- 
ern idea, that the stars are not distributed uniform- 
ly inside the circuit of the Milky Way, but that the 
latter is, in reality, what it looks to be, a vast ring or 
spiral of distant stars surrounding the entire sys- 


tern, and enclosing a relatively empty space. Through 
this relatively empty space our sun, with its atten- 
dant planets, is journeying. If its course has always 
been a straight one, and if it is to continue the same 
in the future, then it must once have been near the 
edge of the Milky Way in the south, and eventually 
it will approach the opposite edge of the Milky Way 
in the north. 

The idea that the Milky Way is a ring of stars, 
made up of subsidiary spirals, is borne out by the 
varied aspects which it presents at different points 
along its course. I cannot too strongly urge, even 
upon the naked -eye observer, the utility and the 
charm of studying the Milky Way in detail. No more 
delightful occupation can be imagined for a summer's 
night, when the moon is absent, when the heavens 
are clear and serene, and when the observer finds him- 
self at a distance from the smoke and blaze of towns 
and cities. It is useless to try to see the Milky Way 
where the atmosphere is impure and the air filled 
with the diffused light of electric lamps. It is one of 
Nature's phenomena which she exhibits in full glory 
only to those who love to be alone with her. 

There is a line of constellations which may be called 
the Milky Way constellations, since they are all to a 
greater or less extent involved in it. Beginning near 
the north pole, and following the order of right as- 
cension, these constellations are: Cassiopeia, Per- 
seus, Auriga, Gemini (the feet), Orion (the club), 
Monoceros, Canis Major (the head), Argo Navis, the 
Southern Cross, Centaurus (the feet), Ara, Scorpio 
(the tail), Sagittarius, Scutum Sobieskii, Aquila, Cyg- 


nus, and Cepheus, which brings us back again to the 
neighborhood of the north pole. 

In Cassiopeia, where its width varies from five to 
ten degrees, the Galaxy passes through the body and 
chair of the imaginary figure, and is, in general, of 
the second order of brightness, according to Heis's 
estimate. But the brightness varies in different spots, 
and faint branches extend in various directions, one 
running nearly to Polaris. In leaving Cassiopeia the 
stream narrows and loses brilliancy, but brightens 
again after entering Perseus, and is very brilliant 
around the wonderful double-cluster in the "Sword- 
hand." There are many offshoots here interspersed 
with dark spaces. One of these involves Algol, and 
passes far beyond; another, still larger, passes the 
Triangle and reaches the head of Aries. 

Nearly the whole constellation of Auriga is in- 
volved in winding branches of the Milky Way. The 
brightest portions are between Capella and El Nath 
in the northern horn of Taurus. One vast loop is 
thrown out to the Pleiades, although its course is not 
brilliant ; another, similar, reaches and surrounds the 

Passing between Gemini and Orion, the stream 
with its side-currents becomes very broad, although 
faint in many places. It is bright around the feet 
of Gemini, and a curtain of faint light spreads almost 
to the heads of the Twins, Castor and Pollux, lying 
near its edge. A vast extension, but one not readily 
seen except in a very clear sky, involves the belt of 
Orion. . Otto Baeddicker, who, at Lord Rosse's obser- 
vatory in Ireland, has made very elaborate studies 


of the Milky Way, represents a most singular bend 
setting off from the main stream between Taurus and 
Orion, and running in a long, narrow curve through 
the rows of stars that form the "lion's hide," which 
Orion is represented as carrying for a shield on his 
left arm. The genesis of all this part of the heavens 
is evidently recent. It is full of a peculiar type of 
stars, called the Orion stars, in a relatively early 
stage of development; it is marked by some of the 
most singular offsets from the Milky Way, apparently 
associated with notable rows of stars ; and it contains 
the most unique nebulous objects, connected with 
groups and clusters of stars, like the nebulae in the 
Pleiades and around Orion's belt. One might call 
it the New World of space, where the more ancient 
parts of the starry universe may see their history 
re-beginning and developing on a grander plan, with 
more magnificent details. 

In Monoceros and Canis Major the Milky Way is 
faint; in Argo Navis it spreads into broad shallows, 
but on approaching the Southern Cross it suddenly 
narrows to a lune-shaped strait, which immediately 
afterwards expands into a vast luminous cloud com- 
pletely enveloping the lower part of the Cross and 
extending on into Centaurus. Between the Cross 
and Alpha and Beta Centauri appears, in the very 
midst of the brightest part of the stream, a phe- 
nomenon which drew almost as much attention from 
the early navigators of the South Seas as the Cross 
itself, and which Mr. J. Ellard Gore says is consid- 
ered by some observers to be the most extraordinary 
feature of the southern sky. This is a black, pear- 


shaped spot about eight degrees long by five degrees 
wide, bearing the name of the Coal Sack. Some of 
the first explorers of the southern hemisphere seem 
to have thought that it was a real object among the 
stars, and this was the opinion of the sailors, who 
looked upon it with more or less awe. It is, in fact, 
an opening in the Milky Way, containing but one 
star visible to the naked eye, and that a very faint 
one, while its borders are sharply defined by rich 
banks of stars. The telescope shows other faint 
stars within the opening, but they are too scat- 
tered to make any impression on the eye, so that 
the effect of contrast causes the Coal Sack to ap- 
pear distinctly blacker than any other part of the 

After passing Centaurus the Milky Way splits in 
two, the larger and brighter stream passing through 
Ara into Sagittarius, while the other enters the east- 
ern end of Scorpio and finally fades away in Ophiu- 
chus after throwing out one or two cross - streams 
which connect it with the main current in Sagittarius. 
This portion of the Milky Way, which lies just above 
the southern horizon, as seen from our middle lati- 
tudes in summer, is very striking in appearance. On 
a dark night it suggests vast sheets of heat lightning 
arrested and motionless. But brilliant as this part 
of the Milky Way appears to us, it is far more brilliant 
when seen from tropical latitudes on either side of the 
equator. A vivid description of its appearance in 
the dry air of the uplands of South Africa is quoted 
by Mr. Gore from Colonel Markwick, an English army 
officer : 



Certainly the Milky Way about the neighborhood of 
Lupus, Ara, and Norma is a wonderful spectacle, full of a 
mysterious weirdness with its delicate cloud-like wisps of 
light and dark passages twining in and out among the star 
mist. To my mind there is no part of the northern Milky 
Way to compare to this. 

In Sagittarius and Scutum Sobieskii there are spots 
which look like luminous knots to the naked eye. 
The stream is also very bright in Aquila, and won- 
derfully so in Cygnus, where its long, winding reaches 
and cross-currents involve the entire figure of the 
Northern Cross. From Cygnus it passes into Cassio- 
peia, the point from which we began. 

One cannot study the Milky Way without observ- 
ing that the great majority of the first-magnitude 
stars are arranged in, or close along, its course. These 
are Sirius, Canopus, Alpha Crucis, Alpha and Beta 
Centauri, Antares, Altair, Vega, Capella, Aldebaran, 
Betelgeuse, Procyon, and Rigel. The only first -mag- 
nitude stars which are situated at a great distance 
from the Milky Way are Arcturus, Regulus, Spica, 
Achernar, and Fomalhaut. Stars of lesser magnitude 
also increase in number as the Milky Way is ap- 
proached, and a very notable circumstance is that the 
curving wisps and rays that set off from the Milky 
Way are almost invariably accompanied by accord- 
ant curves of stars. 

The great circle of first-magnitude stars with, of 
course, many of the second magnitude among them 
to which attention has just been called, has often 
been the subject of remark, and Sir John Herschel and 
Dr. Gould thought that it indicated the existence of 


a flat, disk-shaped cluster of comparatively near-by 
stars, to which our own sun belongs, placed within the 
ring of the Milky Way with its plane inclined to the 
latter at an angle of about twenty degrees. 

The distance of the Milky Way is appalling. Only 
most uncertain estimates can be made of it, but there 
seems to be no question that it must exceed twenty 
thousand millions of millions of miles. Light would 
require between three and four thousand years to dart 
over such a distance. If the solar system is travelling 
from one side of the Milky Way to the other, across 
the central opening, the whole journey will consume 
about fifty millions of years. 

"" The mythology of the Milky Way extends through 
the literature of all nations. Naturally it has always 
been regarded as a road or path, and the most beauti- 
ful legends have been associated with it. All of the 
early nations connected it with the abode of their gods 
and of translated spirits. It was the pathway of the 
supernal powers, or that pursued by the dead on their 
way to brighter realms. The North American Ind- 
ians, with a delicacy of imagination not inferior to 
that of the Greeks, saw in the string of brilliant stars 
that follows the line of the Galaxy the camp - fires 
lighted along the pathway of the spirits on their 
journey to the Happy Hunting Grounds. The Greeks, 
the Hindoos, the Chaldeans, the Egyptians, the Norse- 
men, the savage tribes of Africa and of Australia, all 
regarded it as a celestial pathway. 

One of the Greek legends connected it with the 
story of Phaeton and his unfortunate adventure with 
the Chariot of the Sun, when the horses, taking fright 


at the spectacle of the monsters of the zodiac, and 
feeling no longer the hand of Apollo upon the reins, 
bolted from their road, set the heavens on fire, and 
came near burning up the earth. The scorched track 
of their runaway was marked by the Milky Way. 
Another story said that the gods trod this way. In 
ancient England the Milky Way was sometimes called 
Watling Street, leading to Asgard; also the Asgard 
Bridge, a name likewise given to the rainbow. 

Often, however, the idea of a river was associated 
with the Milky Way, and it must be said that this 
is more in accord with its appearance. The Chinese 
and the Japanese regarded it as a stream, and had a 
beautiful legend that the silvery fishes sporting in its 
waves were frightened and hid themselves at the sight 
of the new moon, the shape of which suggested a hook/ 
a very good way of accounting for the fact that the 
star-clouds of the Galaxy almost disappear in the 
presence of moonlight. The Greeks also sometimes 
called it the Ocean Stream. 

But returning to the idea of a pathway, the Bush- 
men of South Africa, like the American Indians, as- 
sociated it with the thought of lights illuminated in 
the night to guide wandering spirits. It was a line 
of glowing ashes and embers, they said, by which 
benighted travellers might find their way. Other 
savage tribes regarded it as a road along which their 
dead friends were hunting ostriches. Mr. Allen as- 
cribes this belief to the Patagonians. 

Lafcadio Hearn, writing of the romance of the 
Milky Way among the Japanese, and particularly of 
the story which we have already referred to in con- 


nection with the constellations of Aquila and Lyra 
Chapter IX), says, in his eloquent way: 

In the silence of transparent nights, before the rising of 
the moon, the charm of the ancient tale sometimes descends 
upon me out of the scintillant sky, to make me forget the 
monstrous facts of science and the stupendous horror of 
Space. Then I no longer behold the Milky Way as that aw- 
ful Ring of the Cosmos, whose hundred million suns are 

FtseT t? ^ ghte r f^ AbySS ' bUt aS the Ver ^ Amanogawa 
itself-the Rrver Celestial. I see the thrill of its shining 

stream the mists that hover along its verge, and the water- 
grasses that bend in the winds of autumn. White Orihime 
** a \her starry loom, and the Ox that grazes on the 
farther shore-and I know that the falling dew is the spray 
of the Herdsman's oar. 



THIS mysterious phenomenon is not, strictly speak- 
ing, a stellar object, although it is unquestionaably 
connected with a star our own sun. Like the con- 
stellations and the Milky Way, it has long attracted 
a great deal of attention, although it is too indefinite 
to have any mythological associations, and even yet 
its nature is not well understood. The general opin- 
ion at present is that the Zodiacal Light is a faint ex- 
tension of the sun's corona. It is generally described 
as a cone - shaped or lenticular light, rising above 
the western horizon after sunset and above the east- 
ern horizon before sunrise, but not to be seen at all 
seasons. It is especially a naked-eye object, for it is 
too diffuse to be observed with a telescope, and at- 
tempts to photograph it are not very successful. 

The light lies in, or very near, the plane of the eclip- 
tic, and consequently is best seen when the ecliptic 
makes the steepest angle with the horizon. For our 
latitudes this occurs in the evening during February, 
March, and April, and in the morning during Sep- 
tember and October. It can be traced in a clear sky, 
and in the absence of moonlight to a distance of about 
sixty degrees from the sun. Of course, it cannot be 


seen while the sun is above the horizon, and not im- 
mediately after sunset or before sunrise. It is some- 
times confounded with twilight, but its distinct nature 
may be immediately recognized from its shape. 
Naturally it is best seen in equatorial regions, and 
Lieutenant Jones, who made a special study of it 
many years ago, traced it past the zenith, and be- 
lieved that he could follow it completely across the 
sky. It ought, indeed, to be thus visible, under 
favorable circumstances, if it be what it is supposed 
to be a nebulous envelope surrounding the equa- 
torial part of the sun, and extending beyond the orbit 
of the earth. But there is great uncertainty concern- 
ing the light seen in that part of the sky opposite to 
the sun, and many observers think it is not a portion 
of the true Zodiacal Light. This light, opposite the 
sun, is known as he Gegenschein, and has been par- 
ticularly studied by Barnard. It is extremely faint, 
and few have ever seen it. 

I have already, in Chapter I., referred to a view 
of the Zodiacal Light which I once had in an early 
autumn morning from the bare cone of Mount Etna, 
when it shone with a brilliancy that greatly surprised 
me. M. Du Chaillu has given a picturesque descrip- 
tion of its appearance as he saw it during his gorilla 
hunts in Equatorial Africa: 

As if to give a still grander view to the almost enchanting 
scene, the Zodiacal Light rose after the sun had set, increas- 
ing in brilliancy, of a bright yellow color, and rising in a 
pyramidal shape high in the sky, often so bright that it 
overshadowed the brightness of the Milky Way and the rays 
of the moon, the beautiful yellow light diminishing towards 


the apex. It cast a gentle radiance on the clouds around it, 
and sometimes formed almost a ring, but never perfect, 
having a break near the meridian; at times being reflected 
in the east with nearly as much brilliancy, if not as much as 
in the west, and making one almost imagine a second sun- 

The Zodiacal Light in its brightest part is more 
brilliant than the Milky Way. It is brightest along 
its central line, and gradually fades away at the sides. 
It has at times been supposed to be variable in brill- 
iancy. Humboldt says that in Europe several suc- 
cessive years elapsed during which it was affirmed 
that scarcely any Zodiacal Light could be seen. He 
this describes his observations of it during a voyage 
from Lima to the western coast of Mexico : 

For three or four nights, between 10 and 14 north lat- 
itude, the Zodiacal Light has appeared in greater splendor 
than I have ever observed it. An hour after sunset it was 
seen in great brilliancy between Aldebaran and the Pleiades. 
Narrow, elongated clouds are scattered over the beautiful 
deep azure of the distant horizon, flitting past the Zodiacal 
Light as before a golden curtain. 

These observations were made about the middle 
of March. 

Professor Wright, of Yale, has found that the spec- 
trum of the Zodiacal Light is continuous, indicating 
that it is simply reflected sunlight, and Professor 
Young apparently favored the view that the phenom- 
enon was caused by the existence of myriads of small 
meteoric bodies revolving around the sun nearly in 
the plane of the ecliptic, and "forming a thin, flat 
sheet like one of Saturn's rings, and extending far 


beyond the orbit of the earth." This recalls a re- 
mark of the Russian astronomer Struve, that, in all 
probability, Saturn's rings viewed from that planet 
itself would not look as they do to us, but would ap- 
pear only as a shimmering wreath surrounding the 
planet, and perhaps no brighter than the Milky Way. 
Sir John Herschel, who entertained a similar idea of 
the nature of the Zodiacal Light, suggested that the 
presence of this phenomenon might give the sun, as 
viewed from distant space, the appearance of a neb- 
ulous star. He also expressed the opinion that the 
Zodiacal Light might be "no other than the denser 
part of that medium which, we have some reason to 
believe, resists the motion of comets ; loaded perhaps 
with the actual materials of the tails of millions of 
those bodies of which they have been stripped in their 
successive perihelion passages." 

But the whole subject is still involved in obscurity, 
and a generally acceptable theory of the origin and 
nature of the Zodiacal Light remains to be found. 



THE distinction between the stars and the planets 
as they appear in the sky is one which is never 
popularly made. For all except astronomers and per- 
sons accustomed to view the heavens, the planets are 
simply stars. There is an unquestionable difference to 
a ***ained eye between the light of a planet and that 
of a star, the first being steadier and less affected by 
the phenomenon known as scintillation, but to most 
eyes this difference is not readily apparent, although 
everybody recognizes it when once it has been point- 
ed out. The fact is the stars are so distant that, 
notwithstanding their immense actual magnitude, 
they appear, even with the telescope, as mere points, 
while the planets are near enough to present sensible 
disks. Moreover, the stars shine with a piercing light 
of their own, while the planets are luminous only with 
reflected sunlight. 

Nevertheless, a very large planet, like Jupiter, or 
one of moderate size, like Venus, which comes rela- 
tively near to us, outshines even the most brilliant of 
the stars. Venus has often been distinctly seen in the 
daytime with the naked eye, and its light is at times 
sufficiently bright to cast a shadow. Even Mercury 
1 86 


and Mars, except when the latter is in the more dis- 
tant parts of its orbit, are brighter than standard 
stars of the first magnitude, and Mars in opposition, 
with its startlingly red light, overpowers the most 
brilliant stars that lie along its path. 

For the ordinary observer of the heavens the cease- 
less changes of place which the planets undergo make 
their identification more or less difficult. Since, like 
the earth, they all travel regularly around the sun, 
it is manifest that they must appear continually in 
motion against the background of the starry sky, 
which is spread like a spangled curtain behind them. 
The rapidity of their changes depends upon their 
distance from the sun. The nearer ones, travelling 
at a higher speed and having shorter orbits, go ro* id 
in a relatively brief time, while the more distant ones, 
moving more slowly and having much larger orbits, 
require long periods to complete their circuits. Two 
of the planets, Mercury and Venus, being nearer the 
sun than the earth is, never appear to us at a point 
in the sky opposite to the sun, but are always seen 
on one side or the other of it sometimes on the east 
side after sunset, and sometimes on the west side 
before sunrise. They are the true Morning and Even- 
ing stars. The other planets, being all more distant 
than the earth from the sun, may be seen in any part 
of the sky along the zodiacal circle at any hour of the 
night, their visibility at any particular time depending 
upon their positions in their orbits, and also upon the 
position of the earth with reference to the sun. They 
maybe behind the sun as viewed from the earth, or they 
may be in the quarter of the sky opposite to the sun. 


But the apparent perplexity involved in the effort 
to follow the planets through the sky, which seems 
hopeless to those who have never undertaken to solve 
the problem for themselves, disappears as soon as 
they have once been recognized, and their places at 
any given time have been ascertained. After that, 
from a knowledge of their orbital movements, they 
can be found at any subsequent time. 

We shall concern ourselves here with only five of 
the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Sat- 
urn because the other two, Uranus and Neptune, are 
too faint on account of distance to be studied with 
the naked eye. A diagram has been made to aid the 
reader in tracing the places of the three outer planets 
named. In this diagram the positions of the twelve zo- 
diacal constellations are shown, and within the circle 
of the constellations three other circles are drawn one 
for Saturn, one for Jupiter, and one for Mars ; and on 
these circles the positions of the respective planets are 
marked in twelve successive years, from 1908 to 1920, 
covering a complete revolution of Jupiter. Simply for 
convenience of reference, the positions are shown at 
the opening of each year. For Jupiter, and more es- 
pecially for Saturn, these positions change very little 
in the course of a few months, but Mars travels much 
more swiftly. By noting in what constellation the 
planet appears, as shown in the outer circle, its ap- 
proximate place among the stars may be ascertained. 
When once it is known that Jupiter, Saturn, or Mars 
is to be seen within the borders of any given constella- 
tion, no difficulty will be found in recognizing the 
planet concerned, especially after the reader has be- 


come a little familiar with the grouping of the stars 
in each constellation, for then the presence of a large 
planet among the well-known stars proclaims itself. 

The recognition of the planets is rendered so much 
the easier by the fact that their orbits are all con- 
fined within the limits of the zodiacal band, which ex- 
tends eight degrees on each side of the ecliptic, or the 
apparent path of the sun. Accordingly they are al- 
ways to be found in one or another of the zodiacal 


constellations. They all advance from west to east, 
although when they are nearest to the earth they ap- 
pear for a relatively short time to move slowly back- 
ward, an effect of the more rapid motion of the earth 
in passing them. 

It will be found that the position of a planet at 
the beginning of any particular year may be so close 
to the sun that the planet cannot readily be seen at 
that time, for the sun makes the round of the zodiac 
once every year, passing each of the planets in succes- 
sion. The reader may allow for this, and may esti- 
mate when the planet will be far enough from the sun 
to be visible by simply noting that in January the sun 
passes from Sagittarius into Capricornus, in February 
from Capricornus through Aquarius, in March from 
Aquarius through Pisces, in April from Pisces through 
Aries, in May through Taurus, in June from Taurus 
into Gemini, in July from Gemini through Cancer, in 
August from Cancer through Leo, in September from 
Leo into Virgo, in October through Virgo into Libra, 
in November through Libra into Scorpio, and in De- 
cember from Scorpio into Sagittarius. 

The constellations, as before explained, have, in con- 
sequence of the precession of the equinoxes, drifted 
out of connection with the framework of the zodiac 
which is formed with the signs as a basis. Thus the 
sign Aries is now in the constellation Pisces, the sign 
Taurus covers the constellation Aries, etc. In the al- 
manacs the course of the sun and planets it traced by 
the zodiacal signs, but since it is the constellations 
and not the signs which are visible in the sky, I have 
used the constellations for reference in indicating the 


places of the planets. The chief disadvantage arises 
from the fact that while the signs are all exactly thirty 
degrees in length, the constellations are of various 
lengths, and have more or less arbitrary boundaries. 
Yet their distinguishing star groups render them al- 
ways recognizable, and so they may serve for sign- 
posts in naked-eye observation to indicate the move- 
ments of the planets. 

For the two inner planets, Mercury and Venus, no 
diagram covering any considerable period of time is 
practicable. But many almanacs show when they 
are to be seen as morning and evening stars, and 
those who wish to trace their apparitions in advance 
may do so with the aid of the " Barritt-Serviss Star 
and Planet Finder." The period of Mercury from 
one conjunction to the next is about one hundred and 
sixteen days, and that of Venus is about five hundred 
and eighty-four days. 

To the ancients, watching the constant movements 
of the planets, as well as of the sun and the moon, 
these movements being superposed upon the appar- 
ent annual revolution of the entire heavens, the 
celestial system appeared extremely complex, and 
hence arose the old Ptolemaic theory that the earth 
was the common centre of the whole, while the 
periodic backward movements of the planets were 
produced by motion in epicycles. But ages before 
Ptolemy the geocentric idea had prevailed, and upon 
it was based the poetically beautiful conception of 
the Music of the Spheres. Each planet, including the 
sun and the moon, was supposed to be carried in a 
transparent crystalline sphere, and the motion of 


these spheres rotating one within another was con- 
ceived to give rise to a celestial harmony audible to 
the gods, but beyond the range of human ears: 

There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st 
But in his motion like an angel sings, 
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubims. 
Such harmony is in immortal souls, 
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay 
Doth grossly close in it we cannot hear it. 

Merchant of Venice, Act V., Scene i. 

An elaborate scale of harmony was invented repre- 
senting the tones of the various spheres. Cicero was 
delighted with these old Greek ideas, and gave them 
elegant expression. He thought that the moon should 
be regarded as the bass singer in this heavenly choir, 
while the fixed stars furnished the higher notes. Kep- 
ler, who spent as much time in such dreams as in 
scientific study of the universe, gave the bass notes 
to Jupiter and Saturn, the tenor to Mars, the con- 
tralto to the Earth and Venus, and the soprano to 


The five naked-eye planets were naturally the only 
ones known to the ancients, and of these Mercury, 
the nearest to the sun, was probably the last to be 
recognized. The time of his first discovery is un- 
known, but there is extant an observation of him made 
sixty years after the death of Alexander the Great, 
and a Chinese observation in the year 118 B.C. He 
must have been seen at a much earlier date, alter- 


nately in the morning and the evening sky. At first 
he was supposed to be two independent planets, and 
accordingly received two names. As a morning star 
the Egyptians called him Set, and as an evening 
star Horus. The corresponding names among the 
Hindoos were Buddha and Rauhineya, and among the 
Greeks Apollo and Mercury. Finally the fact was 
recognized that the supposed two planets were really 
one, and the name Mercury was universally bestowed 
upon it in the Greco-Roman world. This name after- 
wards became associated with our fourth day of the 
week, which appears as Wednesday in English, de- 
rived through the Saxon Wuotan, but which was 
Mercurii dies in Latin, whence the French Mercredi. 

Cercury (Rp^i)? in Greek) was the messenger of 
gods, and himself a god, who especially pat- 
ronized orators, merchants, travellers, and thieves. 
He was the first of thieves, a very Olympian Tweed, 
for he feared nobody when the itch for possession 
seized him. He stole Jove's sceptre, Mars's sword, 
Neptune's trident, and Venus's girdle. He could 
assume any shape, and nobody could trust him; and 
yet the gods loved him. He was the personification 
of shrewdness. If myth-making were in fashion now 
there would be no difficulty in finding a prototype for 

Astronomers have to acknowledge that their science 
was born as astrology, and the astrologers based their 
system of celestial influences mainly upon the planets 
(including the sun and the moon). They adopted the 
ancient ideas about the character of Mercury. Says 
old William Lilly: 


We may not call him either masculine or feminine, for he 
is either one or the other as joined to any planet, for if in 
conjunction with a masculine planet he becomes masculine, 
if with a feminine then feminine ; but of his own nature he is 
cold and dry, and therefore melancholy. With the good he 
is good, with the evil planets ill. He is author of subtlety, 
tricks, devices, perjury. Being well dignified, he represents 
a man of a subtle and political brain and intellect, an ex- 
cellent disputant and logician, using much eloquence in his 
speech ... a searcher into all kinds of mysteries and learning, 
sharp and witty, naturally desirous to travel, a man of un- 
wearied fancy, curious in the search for any occult knowledge, 
able by his own genius to produce wonders, given to divination. 
If he turn merchant no man exceeds him in way of trade or 
invention of new ways whereby to obtain wealth. ... If ill- 
dignified he is a troublesome wit, a kind of phrenetic man, 
his tongue and pen against every man, a great liar, boaster, 
tattler, busybody, a tale-carrier, addicted to wicked acts, 
easy of belief, an ass or very idiot, constant in no place or 
opinion, cheating and thieving everywhere. If he prove a 
divine, then a mere verbal fellow, frothy, of no judgment, 
easily perverted. . . . He generally signifies all literary men, 
philosophers, mathematicians, astrologians, merchants, sculp- 
tors, poets, orators, advocates, schoolmasters, ambassadors, 
artificers; sometimes thieves, grammarians, tailors, usurers. 

Perhaps the most curious thing in connection with 
this is that astrology still survives, and I do not 
know how many thousands of men and women yet 
think, or allow themselves to be persuaded, that if 
Mercury presided over their birth they must partake 
of these qualities, according as his protean nature 
may have been affected at the time by the influence 
of other planets. These things, however ridiculous 
they may be, have played far too great a part in 
human history to be ignored. Even Kepler was af- 


fected by astrological superstition, and Tycho cast 
horoscopes when royalty commanded and he couldn't 
refuse. Galileo, to banish the fears of the wife of the 
Grand-Duke Ferdinando I., who was very ill, recast 
his horoscope, and predicted that he had yet many 
years to live. But, alas! for Galileo's skill in astrology, 
Ferdinando died within twenty-two weeks. 

As a naked-eye object Mercury is very brilliant 
when he can be seen, which is not very frequently. 
He never gets more than about twenty-eight degrees 
from the sun less than the length of one zodiacal sign. 
As a morning star he is best seen, from our latitudes, 
in the autumn, and as an evening star in the spring. 
At his greatest elongation he never sets or rises much 
-more than two hours after, or before, the sun. It is 
a legend in astronomical history that Copernicus 
never succeeded in seeing Mercury. Mr. Hind, the 
distinguished English astronomer, never saw Mercury 
with the naked eye but once in his life. On account 
of his shy habits he excites curiosity, and it is very 
well worth anybody's while to get a glimpse of him 
when he is well placed. He glows in the twilight with 
great brilliancy, although far inferior in brightness 
to Venus when she is near. Occasionally the two 
planets may be seen in conjunction, in the morning 
or evening sky, and the spectacle is always an inter- 
esting one. The light of Venus is whiter and more 
dazzling, probably owing to the dense clouds in her 
atmosphere. Mercury sometimes presents a slightly 
reddish tint. Owing to his rapid movements, he soon 
disappears in the sun's rays, only to emerge again a 
few weeks later on the other side. Perhaps the sur- 


prise experienced by the eye in seeing Mercury so 
bright in the retreating or the on-coming daylight 
adds to the effect that he produces. To the eye of 
fancy he resembles a gem pinned upon the curtain of 
the evening, and the Greeks often spoke of Mercury 
by the name of The Sparkler. 

Mercury has given his name to a metal which, in 
some respects, is not unlike the planet, being very 
sparkling in appearance and very shifty in conduct, 
running away and hiding itself whenever the chance 
offers. The old alchemists originally bestowed the 
name of Mercury upon all volatile metals, but since 
their time it has been restricted to "quicksilver," a 
word derived from the Latin argentum vivum. It is a 
singular fact that, according to recent determinations, 
the density of the planet is about equal to that of 
the metal mercury. 

The ancient idea that Mercury was the patron of 
travellers may have been suggested by the rapid 
movements of the planet. Being, in round numbers, 
only 36,000,000 miles from the sun, his mean orbital 
velocity amounts to twenty-nine miles per second, 
while when he is travelling at his highest speed he goes 
thirty-five miles per second. The difference in his 
velocity at different times arises from the great eccen- 
tricity of his orbit. When in perihelion he is only 
28,500,000 miles from the sun, while at aphelion this 
is increased to 43,500,000. In other words, his dis- 
tance from the sun varies to the extent of 15,000,000 
miles, and this in a period of only about six weeks! 
On the average he receives from the sun nearly six 
and three-quarters times as much heat and light as 


the earth does, but this amount is so variable that 
it is more than twice as great in perihelion as in 

Mercury's period of revolution, or his year, is three- 
quarters of an hour less than eighty-eight days, and 
he comes into conjunction with the earth once in 
about one hundred and sixteen days. From the 
earth his distance varies from about 57,000,000 miles 
at inferior conjunction to about 129,000,000 miles at 
superior conjunction. If the orbit of Mercury lay in 
the same plane as that of the earth, he would be seen 
crossing the disk of the sun as a round black spot 
three times every year i. e., every time he is in in- 
ferior conjunction with the earth. But his orbit is, 
in fact, so inclined to that of our globe that these 
transits across the sun are relatively rare. On the 
average, there are thirteen of them every one hun- 
dred years, and they always occur either in May or 
November. The latest transit of Mercury occurred 
in November, 1907, and the next four will occur No- 
vember, 6, 1914; May 7, 1924; November 8, 1927; and 
May 10, 1937. 

Mercury is the smallest of the planets, the asteroids 
being left out of consideration. His diameter is only 
three thousand miles, so that his surface is but one- 
seventh as great as that of the earth. Nevertheless, 
as already remarked, his density is very great, amount- 
ing, according to the estimates of Backlund, to near- 
ly 12.5, that of water being seven. This is nearly 
the density of the metal mercury. This extraordinary 
density may be regarded as an indication that the 
planet is entirely metallic in its constitution. Esti- 


mates of the density vary widely, but they are all 
high. Being situated so near the centre of the solar 
system, there are reasons why Mercury might natural- 
ly be composed of materials of greater mean density 
than those found in the earth. The heaviest sub- 
stances would, in the process of condensation from a 
nebulous state, seek the centre. Being nearer than 
the earth to the sun, Mercury presents in succession 
all the phases which are shown by the moon, but these 
can only be seen with the aid of telescopes. 

The question of the presence or absence of life al- 
ways arises in connection with the planets, and it can 
only be answered in a general way by appealing to 
our knowledge of their physical condition, as well as 
of their situation with respect to the sun, which is 
the universal source of light, heat, and radiant energy 
of all kinds. For such information we are partly 
dependent upon telescopic observation. This is diffi- 
cult on account of the planet's nearness to the sun, 
and in recent times many such observations have 
been made in full daylight when Mercury is high 
above the obscuring mists and confusing atmospheric 
currents of the horizon. The results are not very 
encouraging. Few of the surface features of the 
planet can be clearly discerned. There is nothing to 
indicate the presence of oceans and continents, al- 
though some observers have thought that they found 
evidence of the existence of extremely lofty moun- 
tains. The general impression at present is that Mer- 
cury's surface is altogether barren as far as life is con- 
cerned, and that it more nearly resembles the moon 
than the earth. 



Schiaparelli, Lowell, and other observers believe 
that they have found permanent markings upon 
Mercury of an unknown character (Lowell's drawings 
show many of them in the form of narrow lines cross- 
ing one another like the "canals" of Mars), and upon 
observation of these markings has been based the 
startling conclusion that Mercury does not revolve 
rapidly upon his axis, like the earth, as all the older 
observers supposed, but turns only once in the course 
of a revolution around the sun. The result, of course, 
is that the little planet lies in a predicament with re- 
gard to the sun, precisely like that of the moon with 
regard to the earth. He keeps always the same face 
towards the sun, from which it follows that one half 
is exposed to perpetual day, while the other half is 
plunged in unending night. The effect upon any 
forms of life existing on his surface may be left for 
the imagination to trace. Owing, however, to the 
great eccentricity of his orbit, there must be a zone, 
perpendicular to the equator and reaching from pole 
to pole, over which the sun appears to rise and set 
once in the course of a revolution. This zone is about 
fourteen hundred miles in breadth at the equator, 
diminishing to zero at the poles. But the existence 
of this zone does not help much in favoring the hy- 
pothesis of the possible presence of organic life. 

The cause of the coincidence in the rotation and 
revolution periods is believed to be "tidal friction," 
a subject mathematically developed by Professor 
George Darwin, and summed up by him in his book 
on The Tides. 

Another thing inimical to life on Mercury is his 


nearness to the sun. We have already seen that, on 
the average, he gets nearly six and three-quarter times 
as much solar light and heat as comes to the earth. 
This in itself would seem to prohibit the presence of . 
beings resembling ourselves, for it must make the 
mean temperature of the planet's surface far above 
that of boiling water, so that no liquid can exist on it. 
On the other hand, there is little evidence of the 
existence of any clouds or any watery vapor on Mer- 
cury. But the situation is made still more difficult 
by the fact of the great and rapid changes of tempera- 
ture which Mercury undergoes on account of the 
eccentricity of the orbit. When he is nearest to the 
sun he receives two and a quarter times as much light 
and heat as when he is farthest from the sun, and the 
change from one position to the other occupies only 
six weeks. This is to be plunged from the frying-pan 
into the fire with a vengeance! The only thing in 
which the surface condition of Mercury approaches 
close to that of the earth appears to be the force of; 
gravity, which is five-sixths of that on our globe. Ac- 
cordingly there would not be much difference in the 
weight of a man on Mercury and on the earth. 

Upon the whole, then, it may be said that Mercury 
cannot be regarded as a habitable globe, and it is 
exceedingly doubtful if he has ever had any inhabi- 
tants. If so, they must have differed very widely from 
the creatures of the earth. So we must dismiss, with 
an indulgent smile, the speculations of delightful old 
Thomas Dick concerning the number of intellectual 
beings in the solar system, in which he assigned just 
8,960,000,000 inhabitants to the planet Mercury! 


Gem of the crimson-colored even, 
Companion of retiring day, 
Why at the closing gates of heaven, 
Beloved star, dost thou delay? 


The zenith of poetic suggestion and association 
among celestial objects is unquestionably occupied by 
the planet Venus. The singers of all ages and all peo- 
ples have chanted her praises, and almost universally 
she has been associated with the goddess of love : 

Etoile qui descend stir la verte colline, 
Triste larme d'argent du manteau de la nuit, 
Toi que regarde au loin le patre qui chemine 
Tandis que, pas a pas, son long troupeau le suit, 
Etoile! ou t'en vas-tu dans cette nuit immense? 
Cherches-tu sur la rive un lit dans les roseaux? 
Ou t'en vas-tu, si belle a 1'heure du silence, 
Tomber comme une perle au sein profond des eaux? 
Ah! si tu dois mourir, bel astre, et si sa tete 
Va dans la vaste mer plonger tes blonds cheveux, 
Avant de nous quitter un seul instant arrete: 
Etoile d'amour ne descends pas des cieux! 

Lamartine . 

It is unnecessary to say how Venus got her name. 
Homer, who has mentioned no other planet, could not 
^omit her. HisJer^tTfe^fer Venus is "the Beautiful." 
Like Mercury, Venus appears in succession as morn- 
ing and as evening star, and, like Mercury, she was 
at first supposed to be two stars; and she received 
two distinct names Phosphorus in the morning, and 


Hesperus in the evening sky/ Pythagoras is sup- 
posed to have been the first to identify Hesperus 
with Venus. The earliest recorded observation of 
Venus was made 686 B.C., but she must have been 
watched with admiration from the beginning of hu- 
man history. Some have identified her with Isaiah's 
"Lucifer, Son of the Morning." The Arabs called her 
El Zorah, the "Splendor of Heaven." Sirius himself 
pales to insignificance in comparison with Venus when 
she is near inferior conjunction with the earth. To 
many persons unfamiliar with the sky she then ap- 
pears incredibly brilliant for a star, and since the 
development of electric lamps she has often been 
mistaken for an aerial signal sent aloft in the night, 
^rago relates that in 1797, when Napoleon returned 
to Paris after his campaigns in Italy, he was aston- 
ished to see the crowds around the palace of the 
Luxembourg fixing their eyes upon the sky. Then he 
looked up himself and saw Venus gleaming there in 
full daylight. The people enthusiastically applauded 
the apparition as his star. In fact, it is not difficult to 
see Venus by day if one knows exactly where to look/ 
when she is nearest to the earth, and when her dis- 
tance is reduced to about 26,000,000 miles. Her 
light then is about ^one-thousandth of that received 
from the full moon, but, being concentrated almost 
in a point, it impresses the eye with dazzling efful- 

The reason why Venus, like Mercury, cannot be 
seen in the midnight sky, but only before or after 
the sun, in the morning and the evening, has already 
been sufficiently explained. But while Mercury, on 


account of his nearness to the sun, can be observed 
only with some difficulty, Venus, whose average dis- 
tance from the sun is 67,000,000 miles, goes far enough 
away from him, first in the east and then in the west, 
to become very conspicuous. At her greatest elon- 
gation she may appear as far as forty-seven degrees 
from the sun. She returns to inferior conjunction 
every 584 days. Her conjunction in 1908 occurs 
July 6th. With this as a basis her future movements 
can readily be estimated. Her orbital period, or time 
of revolution around the sun, is 225 days. That, of 
course, represents the length of her year. 

The astrologers have not been less attentive to 
Venus than to Mercury, and of course they have 
recognized her "qualities" in her conventional char- 
acter as the representative of Aphrodite. I quote 
again from Lilly: 

She is a feminine planet, temperately cold and moist; 
nocturnal, the lesser fortune, author of mirth and cheerful- 
ness. She signifies, when well dignified, a quiet man, not 
given to law, quarrel, or wrangling, not vicious, pleasant, 
neat, and spruce, rather drinking much than gluttonous; 
often entangled in love matters, zealous in affections, mu- 
sical, delighting in amusement, easy of belief, not given to 
labor, or to take any pains; a right virtuous man or woman, 
often jealous, yet without cause. When ill-dignified, a riot- 
ous, expensive person, wholly given to dissipation, lewd, 
fantastical, a mere skip-jack, of no faith, a mere lazy com- 
panion, nothing careful of the things of this life or anything 
religious. . . . She signifies musicians, gamesters, silkmen, 
mercers, painters, jewellers, players, lapidaries, embroider- 
ers, choristers, fiddlers; when joined with the moon, ballad- 
singers, perfumers, seamstresses, engravers, upholsterers, 
glovers, -and such as sell those commodities which adorn 


women, either in body, as clothes, or in face, as complex- 
ion waters. Her cities are Vienna and Turin. 

The old astrologer avers that "a right Venus per- 
son is a pretty, complete, handsome man or woman." 
And another astrologer adds that those who have 
Venus strong in their nativities invariably have dim- 
ples in the cheek or chin. It is comforting to be assured 
of so agreeable a mark of identification, bestowed by 
so winning a member of the old Olympic conclave. 

From Venus is derived the name of the sixth day 
of the week, Veneris dies ; in French, Vendredi. 

In astronomical history Venus is celebrated for 
having furnished to Galileo, during his first observa- 
tion with the telescope in 1610, a crushing refutation 
of the old Ptolemaic, or geocentric, system. Venus, 
like Mercury, exhibits phases similar to those of the 
moon as she moves through her orbit. When she is 
on the opposite side of the sun from the earth, she 
appears round like the full moon; when she moves 
between the sun and the earth, she passes through 
the various crescent and waning phases. These 
Galileo discovered with his little telescope. But it 
was dangerous in his day to upset received opinions, 
and he kept the discovery to himself for a while, 
simply confiding to his friend Giulio de' Medici an 
enigmatic announcement of it, to which he himself 
later furnished the clew. For reference it may be 
well to give Galileo's Latin anagram, as he sent it in 
September, 1610, and his explanation of it, sent in 
January, 1611: 

HCBC immatura, a ine, jam jrustra, leguntur. 0. Y. 


Neglecting the superfluous letters 0. Y., this reads 
in English: "These unripe things are read as yet in 
vain by me." 

The explanation was made by simply transposing 
the letters of the Latin anagram so that it now reads : 

Cynthia figuras cemulatur Mater Amorum. 

This means in English: "The Mother of Loves 
imitates the shapes of Cynthia." By the "Mother 
of Loves," of course, he meant Venus, and by "Cyn- 
thia" the moon. 

The smallest modern telescope easily shows the 
phases of Venus, which, at first, were imperfectly re- 
vealed by Galileo's instrument. 

Like Mercury, also, Venus at certain times passes 
across the disk of the sun. These transits of Venus 
are both more rare and more important than those 
of Mercury. For reasons arising out of the relations 
between the orbital movements of Venus and the 
earth, the transits occur in pairs, and always either 
at the beginning of June or the beginning of Decem- 
ber. The two transits constituting a pair occur eight 
years apart, while the successive pairs are separated 
by an interval of one hundred and twenty-two years. 
The latest transits of Venus occurred in December, 
1874, and December, 1882. The next pair is due in 
June, 2004, and June, 2012. The present reader will 
hardly take an expectant interest in the statement 
that when in transit Venus can be seen with the naked 
eye (protected by a dark glass), and that the perfect 
roundness of her figure and the inky blackness of her 
silhouette make the spectacle surprisingly attractive. 


The transits of Venus have held a high rank among 
astronomical phenomena on account of the oppor- 
tunity which they afford to measure the parallax, 
and hence the distance, of the sun. But since 1882 
other and better methods have been developed, so 
that for our descendants of the twenty-first century 
these transits will probably possess only such interest 
as their picturesqueness and their historic importance 
may lend to them. 

There are many circumstances which make Venus 
particularly interesting from the point of view of the 
problem of habitability. In the first place, she is 
very nearly the twin of the earth in size. Her diam- 
eter is 7700 miles, and her surface is only 5 per cent, 
less in area than that of our globe. Her density 
is somewhat less than the earth's, so that the force 
of gravity on her surface is about 85 per cent, of ter- 
restrial gravity. Anything that weighs 100 pounds 
on the earth would weigh 85 pounds if removed to 
Venus. As far as this influences living beings, we 
might suppose that they would be perceptibly larger 
on Venus than on the earth. 

In the next place, Venus possesses an abundant 
atmosphere, charged with watery vapor. Both tele- 
scopic and spectroscopic observations prove the cor- 
rectness of this statement. In fact, the atmosphere 
of Venus appears to be decidedly more dense than 
the earth's, or at least more cloudy, and this may 
possibly be an important agent in ameliorating the 
climatic condition of the planet. Being so much 
nearer the sun, she gets about twice as much solar 
light and heat as we do; but, on the other hand, her 


orbit is the most nearly circular of any in the solar 
system, so that, unlike Mercury, she experiences very 
slight changes in the amount of radiant energy poured 
down upon her by the sun. A peculiar composition 
of the atmosphere, or an unbroken canopy of clouds, 
may modify the heat and the light to a surprising 
degree. But even without any modification, it is 
not certain that the doubling of the solar radiation, 
as compared with its intensity on the earth, would 
be prohibitive of life. It might be unbearable to us, 
but agreeable to beings constituted to meet it. We 
may imagine Venus as the tropics of the solar system, 
a world of intense heats, brilliant colors, sensuous en- 
joyments, and luxuriant abundance of life. 

One of the evidences of the density and probable 
cloudiness of Venus's atmosphere is furnished by her 
brilliancy. She is so dazzling in the telescope that 
hardly any of her features are discernible. The best 
observations are those made by daylight, when some 
of the glare is taken off. Mr. Lowell has made the 
most elaborate drawings of Venus that we possess, 
and, as in the case of Mercury, they exhibit in some 
respects a striking resemblance to telescopic pictures 
of Mars, consisting largely of narrow lines arranged 
on a system of intersections. Taken by itself, this 
might be regarded as a suspicious circumstance sug- 
gesting possible deception of the observer's eyes. At 
any rate, the markings on Venus are indistinct, and 
astronomers in general are not yet disposed to accept 
the conclusion based upon them, originally by Schia- 
parelli, and later by Lowell, that Venus, like Mercury, 
rotates only once on her axis in the course of one of 


her years, thus keeping the same face always sun- 
ward. If it should finally turn out that this view is 
well founded, then, it must be confessed, the theory 
of the habitability of Venus would be much more 
difficult to maintain. A world half day and half 
night, with its absolute contrasts of climate, physical 
conditions, scenery, and race would offer a marvellous 
field for the play of the imagination, but sober science 
would not concern itself greatly about animated ex- 
istence on such a planetary monstrosity. 

Brilliant beyond comparison as Venus appears to 
us, the earth must be far more brilliant when it 
shines in the midnight sky of Venus. When Venus 
appears brightest to our eyes, only about one-quarter 
of her surface, as seen from the earth, is illuminated 
by the sun. At the same time, nearly the whole sur- 
face of the earth appears illuminated as seen from 
Venus. A short time afterwards, when Venus be- 
comes lost to us in the solar rays, the earth crosses 
her meridian at midnight in the form of a full moon, 
and, as observations of the phases both of the moon 
and of the interior planets prove, the gain in light 
reflected from a fully illuminated globe is far greater 
than that indicated by the increase in the area of the 
reflecting surface. It has been shown, for instance, 
that the full moon sends us nine times as much light 
as the half-moon. When the earth is in its full phase, 
as seen from Venus, it must be a phenomenon of 
truly amazing splendor, while the attractiveness of 
the spectacle is singularly increased by the visibility 
at the same time of the moon, slowly circling about 
the earth. If the desire to find a means of com- 


municating with the other worlds visible in our sky 
has seized imaginative minds among us, how much 
more intense should that desire be among the inhabi- 
tants of Venus (if they exist), when they behold this 
great, round earth magnificently pouring her beams 
upon their heads ! When we gaze with admiration at 
Venus in her glory, it is a captivating thought that 
to her we present a spectacle far more glorious still. 
It is true that the intensity of the sunlight received 
on the earth is only half as great as on Venus, but 
that hardly affects the comparison. Consider how 
brilliant Mars appears in opposition, although he re- 
ceives only about half as much solar light as comes 
to the earth. 

There is one other circumstance affecting the con- 
dition of Venus considered as a habitable globe which 
should not go unnoticed. Many observations seem 
to prove that her axis is remarkably upright, nearly 
perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic. If this is 
true, she cannot have the marked succession of sea- 
sons, with winter and summer chasing each other to 
and fro across the equator, from one hemisphere into 
the other, that occurs on the earth, but her climates 
must rather be arranged in zones always summer in 
the equatorial and tropical belt, a changeless spring 
temperature in higher latitudes, and unbroken winter 
in the polar regions. 


The immense literature that has grown up about 
the planet Mars within the past ten years, and the 


acerbity of some of the disputes concerning it, demon- 
strate the hold that the question of the habitability 
of other worlds possesses not only upon the popular 
imagination, but upon the minds of many who are 
engaged in scientific study of the celestial bodies. 
But long before it became possible to discuss this 
question on any other basis than that of pure hy- 
pothesis, Mars had attracted universal attention. 
Never so bright as Venus or Jupiter, his startling 
color, his frequent returns to a prominent position in 
the sky, and his enormous changes of brightness have 
always excited a great deal of interest. When he 
beams like a red signal-lantern in the midnight heav- 
ens, Mars fixes the eye like no other celestial object. 
There is a kind of insistent assertiveness about his 
appearance which piques curiosity, and at the same 
time defies it. 

In ancient times Mars received everywhere names 
based upon his ruddy aspect. The Chinese called 
him, plainly, the Red Planet; the Hindoos, the 
Ember; the Hebrews, the Burning One; the Egyp- 
tians, the Red Horus; the Greeks, the Fiery. He 
was also invariably associated with the god of war, 
whatever the particular name of that deity might be. 
The name which has clung to the planet is that of the 
Greek Ares, transformed into the Roman Mars. There 
is a somewhat uncertain Chinese record of an observa- 
tion of Mars made about 2441 B.C. With the astrolo- 
gers Mars has always been a malign planet, the " lesser 
infortune," author of quarrels and strife. When well 
dignified, says old Lilly, he makes those born under 
him invincible in feats of war and courage, lovers of 


honor, boastful yet prudent, and, when ill dignified, he 
turns them into murderers, thieves, prattlers, traitors, 
and oppressors. Besides soldiers, Mars denotes sur- 
geons, physicians, chemists, thieves, hangmen, smiths, 
bakers, barbers, cooks, carpenters, tanners. The red 
stars, such as Antares, were supposed to partake of 
the nature of Mars, and Lilly's famous prediction of 
the great fire in London in 1666 was based on the 
ascendency of one of these Mars-like stars in the 
horoscope of the city. He was summoned before the 
House of Commons to explain his prophetic powers, 
but he left his hearers as ignorant as he found them. 

Mars stands for the third day of the week, Martis 
dies; in French, Mardi. 

Mars is the first planet outside the earth, his mean 
distance from the sun being 141,500,000 miles. The 
relative distance of Mars from the earth varies more 
^han that of any other planet. When he is on the 
opposite side of the sun, this distance amounts, on the 
average, to 234,000,000 miles, and when he is in op- 
position to the sun it diminishes to only 47,000,000 
miles. But his orbit being eccentric, he may some- 
times be as far away as 267,000,000 miles, and as 
near as 35,500,000 miles. The effect upon his ap- 
parent brightness is, of course, very great. His or- 
bital period, or the length of his year, is 687 days. 
The oppositions of Mars to the sun, which afford the 
best opportunities for the study of his surface, occur 
once every 780 days. Those oppositions which hap- 
pen near the end of August or the beginning of Sep- 
tember are the most favorable, because, as they 
occur in- that quarter of the sky where Mars's peri- 


helion point is situated, the distance between him 
and the earth is reduced to the least possible amount. 
The opposition of 1909 will be one of this kind. 

In size Mars ranks between Mercury and the earth. 
His diameter is 4200 miles, and his surface area about 
28 per cent, of the earth's. Gravity on his surface 
is 38 per cent, of terrestrial gravity. A body weighing 
100 pounds on the earth would weigh but 38 pounds 
if transported to Mars. Very important suppositional 
consequences have been drawn from this, as we shall 
see later. 

The first thing that seized the attention of tele- 
scopic observers of Mars was his white polar caps. 
These both look and behave exactly as we should ex- 
pect caps of snow and ice to do. The seasons of Mars 
are very like those of the earth, except that each is 
nearly twice as long as ours, and, just as with our 
globe, the sun shines in succession upon the two poles. 
The inclination of Mars's axis is 24 50', only a trifle 
greater than that of the earth's axis. Thus the effect 
of the sun rising upon his poles must, other things 
being equal, closely resemble its effect in the case of 
the earth. Moreover, Mars's rotation period is won- 
derfully close to ours, his day and night together 
covering twenty-four hours and thirty-seven minutes. 
Consequently, we should expect the general effect of 
the alternation of sunshine and darkness on Mars to 
resemble that upon the earth. His atmosphere, how- 
ever, is very deficient, and this undoubtedly has im- 
portant results in the distribution and retention of 
solar heat. In fact, the atmosphere of Mars does not 
appear to be more dense than that found on the sum- 



mits of our loftiest mountain-peaks, and the spectro- 
scopic evidence touching the presence of watery va- 
por is unsatisfactory. It has been suggested that a 
slight excess of carbonic acid in Mars's atmosphere 
would serve to keep the planet's temperature suffi- 
ciently high to enable both plant and animal life to 
flourish on his surface. 

However this may be, the behavior of the polar 
caps seems to indicate that they are composed of 
snow and ice alternately frozen and dissolved. They 
regularly and slowly diminish in extent as summer 
advances, and sometimes one and then the other 
nearly disappears, as if the whole winter deposit had 
been melted away. 

Synchronously with this disappearance of the polar 
caps, the famous "canals," first clearly observed by 
Schiaparelli in 1879, make their appearance. These 
objects are far beyond the reach of ordinary telescopes, 
but they have been studied and drawn by a number 
of observers, notably Schiaparelli and Lowell, and 
hundreds of them have been mapped. They cover 
the whole face of the planet, a few of them even 
traversing the polar regions. They are perfectly 
straight, and they meet and cross in scores of places, 
sometimes as many as a dozen coming together at 
one point, and almost invariably where two or more 
of these dusky lines cross a sort of knot is seen, like 
the knots in a spider's web. 

The general telescopic aspect of Mars is that of a 
spotty globe, the surface being divided between light 
and dark regions, the former of a reddish or ochrish 
tint, and the latter having a dusky green or blue 


tinge. These were formerly called, respectively, con- 
tinents and oceans, but at present it is believed that 
no large bodies of water can exist on Mars. The 
"canals" traverse these variously colored regions with 
indifference, although they are much more numerous 
in the light, or reddish, areas. There is one spot, 
sometimes called the "Eye of Mars," which bears no 
little resemblance to the hub of a wheel, conspicuous 
"canals" radiating from it, with striking regularity, 
on all sides. 

The prevailing theory in regard to these objects 
(it is only a theory, and is not "scientifically" ac- 
cepted by astronomers in general) is that of Mr. 
Percival Lowell, who thinks that they are probably 
irrigated lands watered by innumerable canals made 
by the inhabitants of Mars, who, owing to the de- 
siccated state of their planet, are compelled to de- 
pend for a supply of water sufficient to keep vege- 
tation alive upon the annual liquidation of the polar 
snows. The fact that the "canals" begin to appear 
soon after the polar caps begin to diminish, and 
grow darker as the caps become smaller, is perhaps 
the strongest general argument in favor of the view 
that the "canals" indicate the existence of water 
which is alternately withdrawn and re-supplied. The 
visibility of the canals is ascribed not to the water 
but to the vegetation whose growth it stimulates. 

If it were granted that this gigantic irrigation sys- 
tem really exists on Mars, the most insistent question 
would be: How can any imaginable race of beings 
have performed such a labor? The reply that hasj 
been suggested is based upon the small force of 


gravity on Mars. We have already seen that this 
force is only 38 per cent, of terrestrial gravity. This 
may work to advantage in two ways. In the first 
place, animal forms might attain a far greater size 
upon Mars than upon the earth, with coincidently 
greater muscular strength, without being oppressed 
by their own weight. In the second place, since 
all bodies are relatively light on Mars, mechanical 
powers could be much more efficiently applied there 
than here. Thus a race of powerful giants on Mars 
might be able to achieve public works hopelessly be- 
yond the range of man's capacity on the earth. 

That the theory is fascinating no one will deny, 
but confessedly it lies beyond the limits of positive 
demonstration, and some astronomers prefer to be- 
lieve that the "canals" of Mars are some kind of 
natural phenomena arising from the effects of fracture 
in the crust of a cooling and contracting globe. That 
they are not illusions or deceptions of the observer's 
eye seems to be demonstrated by the fact that dur- 
ing the opposition of Mars in 1907 many of the more 
conspicuous "canals" were photographed, at least in 
part, by Mr. Lowell and his assistants. 

Mars possesses two minute moons, revolving with 
great rapidity at a very close range, but, since they 
lie beyond the reach even of the majority of telescopes, 
and since they are not important bodies in them- 
selves, they need not long detain our attention. They 
were first detected by Professor Asaph Hall in 1877, 
and they were named Deimos and Phobos, or Flight 
and Fear, which is a return to mythology, Flight and 
Fear having been the horses that drew the chariot of 


the war god of Olympus. Deimos revolves around 
Mars at a distance of 15,000 miles in 30 hours 10 
minutes, and Phobos at a distance of 6000 miles in 
7 hours 39 minutes. These distances are from the 
centre v of the planet. Neither of these toy satellites 
probably exceeds ten miles in diameter. 


The ancients reasoned well when they gave the 
name of the chief of the gods to the planet Jupiter. 
Although Venus, when at her brightest, far outshines 
Jupiter, yet there is no planet which can rival him 
in the unfailing stateliness of his appearance. His 
slow, majestic movement along the zodiac (he requires 
twelve years to make the circuit of the sky) adds to 
his impressiveness. He is by far the largest of all 
the planets, although those who named him were 
unaware of that fact. Observations of Jupiter are, 
found in Chinese records several thousand years be- 
fore our era. The Chinese called him the Regulator, 
and also the Planet of the Year. Flammarion has 
suggested that the latter name may have been derived 
either from the fact that he takes twelve years for a 
revolution, equal to the number of the months, or^ 
from the fact that he is conspicuously visible for a 
large part of every year. The Egyptians knew him 
as Horus, the Guider of the Sphere. The Hindoos 
and the Greeks both regarded Jupiter as the chief of 
the planets. Astrologically Jupiter was the " Greater 
Fortune." When well aspected, says Lilly, he is 
magnanimous, faithful, bashful, aspiring in an hon- 


orable way at high matters, a lover ot fair dealing, 
doing glorious actions, honorable and religious, won- 
derfully indulgent to wife and children, full of char- 
ity and godliness, just, wise, prudent, and virtuous. 
But when Jupiter is afflicted by malign planets, says 
the astrologer, he wastes his patrimony, is hypocriti- 
cally religious, obstinate, ignorant, careless, gross, dull, 
abasing himself. We need not be surprised to hear 
that he signifies judges, senators, councillors, bish- 
ops, priests, cardinals, chancellors but why woollen- 
drapers ? 

The fifth day of the week takes its name from 
Jupiter, Jovis dies ; in French, Jeudi. 

Jupiter's average distance from the sun is 483,000,- 
ooo miles, more than five times the distance of the 
earth. This is variable to the extent of 21,000,000 
miles. From the earth his distance varies between 
369,000,000 and 576,000,000 miles. On the average, 
says Professor Young, he is about five times as bright 
as Sirius. His oppositions to the sun occur once in 
every 399 days. His colossal globe is 88,000 miles 
in diameter, measured through the equator, and 
83,000 miles measured through the poles, so that the 
polar flattening is very evident in telescopic views. 
This has no doubt originated from his swift rotation 
on his axis, a single turn requiring five minutes less 
than ten hours. Day and night, accordingly, flit 
over his surface with astonishing speed, and in a few 
hours, watching with a telescope, the effect of his ro- 
tation becomes very evident. 

His four principal moons (three very minute ones 
have been discovered since 1892) add immensely to 

JS 217 


the interest of Jupiter. It has been alleged that these 
moons can sometimes be seen, under exceptional 
circumstances, and by eyes of extraordinary power, 
without optical aid. The discovery of these moons 
by Galileo, in 1610, made a great sensation. These 
were Galileo's "Medicean stars," named in honor of 
the brothers Cosimo, Francesco, Carlo, and Lorenzo 
de' Medici. Mr. Fahie, in his Life of Galileo, gives an 
amusing instance of the competition which immediate- 
ly arose among some of the crowned heads of Europe 
for the honor of having their names put in the sky 
by the great discoverer. Within about three months 
after his discovery of the Medicean stars, Galileo re- 
ceived a letter from the French court, saying : 

In case you discover any other fine star, call it by the name 
of the Great Star of France, as well as the most brilliant of 
all the earth, and, if it seems fit to you, call it rather by his 
proper name, Henri, than by the family name Bourbon. 
Thus you will have an opportunity of doing a thing due and 
proper in itself, and, at the same time, of rendering yourself 
and your family rich and powerful forever. 

It was the great Henri IV. in whose behalf this ap- 
plication was made ; but as the king was assassinated 
two months later, Galileo had no opportunity to take 
the bribe, even if he had been disposed to accept it. 
Needy astronomers in our time have no such chances 
offered to them of becoming wealthy and powerful, the 
magnates who now rule the world being less ambitious 
to shine in the heavens. 

For all who possess telescopes -the satellites of 
Jupiter are a ceaseless source of joy. Their move- 


ments are so rapid that in the course of a single even- 
ing they can be watched crossing his disk, preceded 
or followed by their round shadows, as distinct as 
little circles of ink, and can be seen disappearing in 
his shadow at one edge and reappearing at the op- 
posite edge. Their shifting configurations with each 
other and with Jupiter are always fascinating to 

Dr. Thomas Dick gave Jupiter (in imagination) the 
enormous allotment of 6,967,520,000,000 inhabitants, 
verily an appalling "yellow peril" if a "war of the 
worlds" should ever arise; but Jupiter is certainly 
innocent of any such over-population, and, indeed, 
of any population whatever. All careful observations 
show that this immense globe consists principally, if 
not entirely, of vapor. Its surface is streaked, paral- 
lel to the equator, with broad cloud zones, which 
change continually in color, shape, and arrangement. 
It is a most picturesque sight with a telescope, and 
when looking at it I always recall the vivid descrip- 
tion of the appearance of Jupiter in Piazzi Smyth's 
telescope, which he carried up on the peak of Ten- 
eriffie in 1856: 

One could not gaze long without acquiring the impression 
of looking at a windy sky. The whole zone of vapor seemed 
to be in motion, while from its ragged edges portions were 
torn off and were driving along, some of them rolling over 
and over, and others pulled out in length and rearing up 
towards the forepart like a sailing boat scudding before a 
gale. Owing, perhaps, to the effects of perspective, the polar 
zones appeared quiet and level, and the equatorial band was 
somewhat more calm, more inclined to strati and cirrostrati 
than the 'tempestuous cumulostrati of the tropics. 


Piazzi Smyth was unaware of what we now know 
that Jupiter's surface has many different rates of ro- 
tation, the clouds travelling faster near the equator 
than towards the poles. Moreover, there is evidence, 
as Professor Hough has shown, that Jupiter is a many- 
storied world of clouds, the lower strata travelling at 
a different rate from those above; and at times the 
sight seems to range down into depths that may meas- 
ure a thousand miles. 

About the only feature approaching permanence 
of form on Jupiter is the famous Red Spot, which lies 
at about thirty-five degrees south latitude, and which 
has been visible with varying distinctness since 1878. 
In that year I had the good-fortune to catch sight of 
it, almost at the earliest-known date of apparition, 
with a three-inch telescope, the first that I ever owned. 
At times this spot assumes a deep-red color ; at other 
times it fades away as if covered by a veil; but al- 
ways its location is indicated by a deep scallop lying 
exactly alongside of it in the great south equatorial 
cloud belt. The spot measures not less than 30,000 
miles in length, by 7000 in its greatest breadth. It 
is oval in outline. The cause and nature of this won- 
derful spot have been much discussed, but the mys- 
tery remains unsolved. 

Additional evidence of the unsolidified state of 
Jupiter is furnished by his low mean density. This 
is only about one-quarter of the earth's density, or, 
say, one-third greater than the density of water. It 
is possible, if not probable, that there may be a solid 
nucleus, but if so it must be intensely heated and in- 
candescent. Owing to his enormous collective mass, 


the force of gravity on the visible surface of Jupiter is 
2.64 times as great as on the earth. He exceeds the 
earth 1300 times in volume and 316 times in mass, 
or weight. About a thousand bodies of the size of 
Jupiter would make a globe equal to the sun. The 
probability is that Jupiter only recently, as time is 
measured in such things, passed out of the condition 
of a star, or a subsidiary sun, shining with its own 
radiance, and began to enter upon the earlier stages 
of planetary condensation. When he shone with his 
own light he appeared from outer space as a little 
companion of the sun, the two forming a binary star 
whose components differed eight or nine magnitudes 
in brightness. 


The most distant of the planets known to the an- 
cients received from the Greeks the name Chronos, 
equivalent to the Latin Saturn. As the name indi- 
cates, it was associated with the idea of time, or du- 
ration, and no doubt the application to the planet 
Saturn arose from that planet's exceedingly slow 
movements. It requires nearly thirty years to make a 
single circuit of the heavens. Names having a similar 
meaning were bestowed upon the planet by other early 
peoples. Saturn's aspect accords with the deliberate- 
ness of his movements, and recalls Keats's picture of 
the dethroned father of the gods in his hidden retreat: 

Deep in the shady sadness of a vale, 
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn, 
Far from the fiery noon and eve's one star, 
Sat gray-haired Saturn, quiet as a stone, 
Still as the silence round about his lair. 


The seventh day of the week takes its name from 
Saturn, Saturni dies ; in French, Satnedi. 

The astrologers found reasons satisfactory to them 
for making Saturn the exact opposite of Jupiter, call- 
ing him the "Greater Infortune," while Jupiter was 
the "Greater Fortune." Malefic though he be, ac- 
cording to their system, nevertheless they ascribed 
many admirable qualities to Saturn, which he was 
capable of imparting to those born under his rule 
when he was "well dignified." "He is profound in 
imagination," says Lilly, "in his acts severe, in words 
reserved, in speaking and giving very spare, in labor 
patient, in arguing or disputing grave, in obtaining 
the goods of this life studious and solicitous, in all 
manner of actions austere." This is a very good de- 
scription of what is popularly known as a saturnine 
disposition. But when Saturn is plagued with evil 
influences, then the astrologers give him a very bad 
character. He is "envious, covetous, jealous, mis- 
trustful, timorous, sordid, dissembling, sluggish, stub- 
born, a contemner of women and a liar, never con- 
tented and ever repining." Some of these, too, are 
good definitions of what we call a saturnine person, 
and the adoption of the word in common use shows 
how deeply the astrological superstition sank into 
people's minds in former centuries. 

Saturn's mean distance from the sun is 886,000,000 
miles. His period of revolution, or the length of his 
year, is twenty-nine and one-half years, consequently 
he remains visible in the same quarter of the sky for 
several years in succession. He comes into opposition 
to the sun once in every 378 days. From the earth 


Saturn's distance varies between 1,028,000,000 and 
744,000,000 miles. 

The globe of Saturn measures 75,000 miles through 
the equator and 68,000 miles through the poles. The 
difference is equal to the entire diameter of the earth. 
His volume is 760 times that of the earth, but his den- 
sity is so slight that he equals only 95 earths in weight. 
Saturn would float if there were an ocean big enough 
to hold him, his mean density being only five-sevenths 
that of water. His axial rotation period is about the 
same as that of Jupiter 10 hours 14 minutes. 

The great marvel of Saturn is his rings, of which 
Professor Young has said that they are " unlike any- 
thing else in the universe," and are "the most beau- 
tiful and most interesting of all telescopic objects." 
Besides these rings, which are suspended directly over 
his equator, and are divided by two gaps, Saturn has 
ten moons, two of which are very minute objects, only 
recently discovered. The outer diameter of the ring 
system is no less than 168,000 miles, and yet the 
rings probably do not exceed 100 miles in thickness. 
It has been established, both by mathematical rea- 
soning and by spectroscopic evidence, that they con- 
sist of an almost infinite number of small bodies, 
like flights of meteors, revolving around Saturn in a 
common plane. Their telescopic appearance changes 
according to the inclination of their plane towards 
the earth. When the inclination is greatest, the rings 
appear in an oval form, extending a little beyond the 
poles of the planet ; when they are edgewise towards 
the earth, they practically disappear, all that is left 
in sight with telescopes being a delicate straight line 


of light which resembles a pair of illuminated needles 
stuck into the ball of the planet on opposite sides. 
They thus disappear once in about every fifteen years. 
The latest disappearance occurred in 1907. About 
1915 they will be opened again to their widest extent. 

Galileo discovered the existence of the rings of 
Saturn in 1610. As in the case of his discovery of the 
phases of Venus, he concealed the fact for a time in 
an anagram sent to Kepler. In 1612 they got so near 
edgewise that he could no longer see them, and his 
amazement for a time was extreme, while his enemies 
laughed at him and gloried in his disappointment 
and what they regarded as deception. In 1616 he 
caught sight of them again, but, becoming blind in 
his later years, he never recognized them in their true 
form, always supposing that they were subsidiary 
bodies attending Saturn, or projections extending out 
on each side of the globe. It was not until 1656 that 
Huygens finally saw the rings in their true form. It 
is a curious fact, to which Proctor was the first to call 
general attention, that among the discoveries of Lay- 
ard in the ruins of Nineveh was a figure of the god 
Nisroch (identical with Saturn) enveloped with a ring. 
Mr. Proctor thought that here might be an indication 
that the ancient Chaldean astronomers had telescopes, 
but no confirmation of this has been obtained. 

What has been said about the habitability of Jupiter 
applies equally to Saturn. His globe, as we have seen, 
possesses a density much less, even, than that of Jupi- 
ter, so that it is hardly possible to suppose that it has 
a solid nucleus at the centre. If so it must be re- 
latively very small. At the distance of Saturn, too, 


the light and heat of the sun are reduced to about 
one-ninetieth of their intensity at the earth, so that if 
this planet should ever become a solid globe its surface 
temperature would be so extremely low that no living 
forms with which we are acquainted could exist there. 



Queen and huntress chaste and fair, 

Now the sun is laid to sleep, 
Seated in thy silver chair 

State in wonted manner keep. 
Hesperus entreats thy light 
Goddess excellently bright. 

Ben Jonson. 

'"PHE imagination of mankind has never resisted 
1 the fascination of the moon. Under her magic 
spell the whole world is transformed, and every mind 
becomes poetical in its degree. Watch the effect 
upon a great ship's company when the full moon 
shines over the sea. It may be " the captain's night," 
with a brilliant ball on the promenade deck, but 
neither the dancing nor the small talk nor the music 
can overmatch the attraction of the moon, and couples 
will be observed withdrawing from the revelry and 
seeking open places on the deck where they can watch 
the wondrous sight of Diana on her throne. 

Without the presence of the moon the Grand Canal 
of Venice fails in its sorcery. The Parisians eagerly 
await the nights of the clair de lime to assemble along 
the banks of the Seine and enjoy the spectacle of 
their beautiful and historic river stretching its shin- 

Chart XIV 

Sea Of 





ing reaches between the bridges, while the towers of 
Notre Dame stand bewitched in the moonlight. Lon- 
don's Victoria Embankment and ugly Thames become 
fairy scenes when the rays of the full moon touch 
them. What New-Yorker who has ever crossed the 
Brooklyn Bridge at midnight, when the moon was sil- 
vering the bay and turning the sails of distant sloops 
into ebon wings outspread against the brightness, can 
possibly erase the picture from his memory? The 
force of the incantation is always and everywhere 
the same. Who can number the songs and the poems 
that have been inspired by the moonlight? In the 
depths of the African or the Amazonian forests, or 
the wilds of Canada, or among the palm-ringed Pacific 
islands, or amid the ice and snow of the arctic and the 
antarctic circles, the moon is the same enchantress. 

In every part of the world people have sat in the 
moonlight, and still sit, spinning fancies about the 
curious spots on that bright, round face in the sky. 
The legend of the Man in the Moon is as ancient and 
as multiform in its variations as anything in the his- 
tory of human thought. In China the Man in the 
Moon is believed to govern marriages and to tie to- 
gether with an invisible silken cord the young men 
and maidens whom he designs to unite in matrimony. 
"This," says the Reverend Timothy Harley, comment- 
ing on the story in his Moon Lore, "must be the man 
of the honey-moon, and we shall not meet his superior 
in any part of the world." In Teutonic legend the 
Man in the Moon, carrying a bundle of sticks on his 
back, represents a Sabbath-breaker who met a di- 
vine being while cutting wood on the sacred day, and 


when remonstrated with laughed and said that Sun- 
day and Monday were all the same to him. "Then 
stand in the moon for a perpetual Monday!" (Moon- 
day) was the sentence instantly pronounced. Dante 
says that the Man in the Moon is Cain. Some of our 
Indian tribes had a legend that the Man in the Moon 
was a hunter with his dog, banished to the sky for 
some transgression; and a British Columbian tribe, 
visited by Mr. William Duncan, told him a story of a 
child that cried out in the night for water, but was 
neglected by its mother, whereupon the Moon sud- 
denly appeared at the door of the lodge with a pot 
of water which the child eagerly seized. Then the 
Moon carried the child up into the sky, where its face 
can still be seen. The New Zealand savages said that 
the Man in the Moon was one who, going out in the 
night, stumbled and sprained his ankle, whereupon he 
cried for help, and lamented so loudly that at last 
the Moon came down and took hold of him. In his 
terror he seized a bush, but the Moon pulled it up by 
the roots and sailed back into the sky with both 
man and bush. 

The Woman in the Moon has also been a favorite 
subject of myth-making. In truth, it would seem 
that the profile of a woman's face in the moon is more 
evident than any masculine eidolon there. It can 
be seen at any time between first quarter and full 
moon. The face, which is bright, is turned eastward. 
The outlines of forehead, nose, mouth, and chin are 
formed by the "Sea of Showers" and the "Sea of 
Clouds"; the eye is indicated by one of the small, 
dark, oval plains near the centre of the disk, while 


the "Seas" of "Serenity," "Tranquillity," "Fertili- 
ty," and "Nectar" constitute the hair on the top 
and back of the head. The great crater ring Tycho 
blazes like a jewel on her bosom. The Chinese call 
the Woman in the Moon the Fairy Queen, and imag- 
ine that they can see her palace. Even the Esqui- 
maux have invented a legend about her, although 
their story relates rather to the moon's phases than 
to anything visible on her face. They say that the 
Sun and the Moon are brother and sister, and that the 
Sun, in a fit of anger, burned one side of his sister's 
face coal black. Then she ran away, and the Sun 
has been chasing her ever since. When the burned 
side of her face is towards us, she disappears. Pro- 
fessor Charles Frederick Hartt, the geologist, found 
a variant of this legend among the tribes along the 
Amazon. The Samoan savages say that the Moon 
came down one evening and stole a woman named 
Sina while she was at work in the twilight. Sina has 
never been able to get back again, but she still has 
her mallet and the board on which she was beating 
out bark to make cloth. The most charming of all 
the moon legends is that of the Greeks, who called 
the moon Selene, and said that she fell in love with 
the beautiful youth Endymion as he lay asleep on a 
mountain in Elis. 

Peace ho! the moon sleeps with Endymion, 
And would not be awaked. 

MercJiant of Venice. 

Mr. Harley calls attention to the fact that in 
English, French, Italian, Latin, and Greek the moon 


is feminine, but in the Teutonic languages mascu- 

Equally famous with the Man in the Moon and the 
Woman in the Moon is the Hare in the Moon. The 
original of this is a Buddhist legend. The god Sak- 
kria, disguised as a Brahman, pretended to be starving 
and went to the animals for help. The monkey got 
him a bunch of mangoes ; the coot picked up a fisher- 
man's neglected string for him; the fox stole him a 
pot of milk. At last the god approached the hare. 
"I have nothing but grass," said the hare, "and you 
can't eat that." "But your flesh is good," suggest- 
ed the pretended Brahman. The hare assented. 
" Then," said the Brahman, "I'll kindle a fire at the 
foot of this rock and you jump off into it. That '11 
save me the trouble of killing you." The hare as- 
sented again, but as he leaped from the rock the god 
caught him in his arms, and then drew his figure in 
the Moon as a perpetual reminder of the excellence 
of self-sacrifice. 

The worship of the moon extends to the most an- 
cient dates of history. In Chaldea the principal cen- 
tre of moon-worship was Ur, in the land of Abraham. 
The Israelites, in their pagan age, adored the moon 
under the Assyrian name of Astarte or Ashtaroth. 
Some have asserted that Mount -Sinai was originally 
consecrated to the moon. The moon was the great- 
est divinity of the Arabs. She was one of the gods 
of the Persians. The moon played a great part in 
the religion of India, arid in China moon-worship still 
exists. In ancient Egypt she was Isis, the sun being 
Osiris. The Greeks first worshipped her under the 


names of Selene and Phoebe, the name Artemis 
(Diana), as Sir G. C. Lewis thinks, being of later date. 
Diana and Luna were the Roman names for the 
moon-goddess. The moon played a conspicuous part 
in the rites of the Druids, and there are traces of an- 
cient moon-worship in popular customs still surviv- 
ing in the British Isles, as well as in many parts of 
Europe. Among the American Indians moon-worship 
was widely spread. By the Aztecs she was deified 
under the name Meztli, and they had a Pyramid of 
the Moon, as well as one of the sun. In the Temple 
of the Sun at Cuzco was a chapel consecrated to the 
moon, the deity held next in reverence to the sun 
and regarded as the mother of the Incas, the moon 
being both the sister and the wife of the sun. 

In astrology the moon, of course, makes a great 
figure, and as she passes so rapidly through the signs 
of the zodiac her influence upon the planets is de- 
scribed as very variable. When "well affected" she 
bestows good qualities, according to Lilly, but even 
at the best a "moon person" is apt to be unsteady 
and inclined to flit about. When she is " ill affected " 
the moon makes bad characters. As Venus is said to 
bestow dimples, so the moon, it is averred, usually 
makes "one eye a little larger than the other" in her 

f The strange spots on the moon, that have given 
rise to so many legends, first had their true character 
revealed when Galileo, in 1610, aimed his telescope 
at her. They turned out to be mountains, hills, and 
plains. " It is just like the earth," he declared. But 
the assertion, often made, that Galileo believed the 


moon to be inhabited is erroneous. In a letter 
written in 1616, and quoted by Mr. Fahie in his Life, 
Galileo distinctly states his belief that it is impos- 
sible for the moon to be inhabited, and he gives sub- 
stantially the same reasons that would be given to- 
day viz., the absence of water and the lack of rapid 
succession of day and night on her surface. The sun- 
light takes two weeks to creep over the face of the 
moon, and day and night there are each a fortnight 
in length. Moreover, as we now know, there is virtu- 
ally no air on the moon. Yet the moon is "of the 
earth, earthy." ^When Addison wrote: 

Soon as the evening shades prevail 
The moon takes up the wondrous tale, 
And nightly to the listening earth 
Proclaims the story of her birth, 

he did not in the least suspect what the story was 
that the moon so insistently repeated./ It was left 
for Professor George Darwin and mathematical phys- 
ics to unfold that story, which is one of the most 
wonderful in the whole domain of astronomy. Put 
into a few words, this story avers that the moon is 
the child of the earth, born by violence, under the 
stress of forces generated by a rapid rotation of the 
original single viscid mass, combined with tidal action 
emanating from the sun. In the constellation Vul- 
pecula there is a nebula which shows a similar process 
of division now going on. Two enormous masses are 
seen in apparent swift rotation, while their whole 
substance has been whirled out into an hour-glass 
or dumb-bell shape. After the separation was once 


effected, the moon retired from the earth under the 
effects of "tidal friction," a subject too technical to 
be discussed here. But if she carried air and water 
with her when she parted from her mother earth, 
what has become of them? According to one opin- 
ion, they have been absorbed into her rocks as she 
cooled off. The relics of frightful volcanic activity 
on the moon seem conclusive evidence that there 
was once water and fire there. According to another 
opinion, the slight mass of the moon (one-eightieth 
that of the earth) prevented her from permanently 
retaining the gaseous and volatile elements. What- 
ever the cause, the fact remains that no bodies of 
water, and no atmosphere resembling ours, exist to- 
day on the moon. Yet her great plains strikingly re- 
semble the beds of dried-up oceans. 
*^Ks^& telescopic object the moon takes the first 
rank. The slightest magnification begins to reveal 
the marvellous picturesqueness of her broken land- 
scapes, and with higher powers the spectacles that 
she presents are indescribable in their weird magnifi- 
cence. Although she is only 2100 miles in diameter, 
her mountains, and particularly her "craters," are 
mightier than those of the earth. 

Everybody knows, of course, why the moon changes 
shape as she travels around the earth. These phases 
are simply due to the change in the extent of the sun- 
illuminated surface visible to us. When she is be- 
tween the sun and the earth, she disappears; when 
she emerges on the east of the sun, she appears as a 
thin crescent in the western sky, only a narrow rim 
of the illuminated half being then visible to us ; when 

16 233 


she reaches a point at right angles to the direction 
of the sun, half of the illuminated side appears ; when 
she is opposite to the sun she assumes the full phase, 
because then the whole of her illuminated side is tow- 
ards the earth. As she goes round she always keeps 
the same side towards us, so that we know nothing, 
except by inference, of the other side of the moon. 
This peculiarity of the moon's rotation is believed to 
be due to the "braking action of the tides raised by 
the attraction of the earth when the moon was yet 
in a viscid state. 

The moon both causes and suffers eclipses. When 
she passes exactly between the earth and the sun, 
the latter is hidden behind her opaque globe, and we 
have a solar eclipse one of the most interesting of 
all astronomical phenomena, on account of the mar- 
vellous streamers of light, called the corona, which 
then appear surrounding the eclipsed sun, and ex- 
tending away, in some cases, millions of miles. When 
the moon passes the earth on the side opposite to the 
sun in other words, when she is a full moon she 
comes at certain times almost exactly in line with the 
two, and then she enters the shadow of the earth and 
is herself eclipsed. Eclipses of the sun are very rare 
phenomena at any particular place on the earth, 
because the moon's shadow is reduced almost to a 
point before it reaches the earth, from her average 
distance of 239,000 miles, and it is only within the 
shadow that the sun appears eclipsed. The orbit of 
the moon around the earth is continually shifting its 
place a little, and so the point of her shadow does 
not reach the earth at the same place in successive 


eclipses. Eclipses of the moon are more frequently 
seen, because the earth's shadow, being much larger 
than the moon's, completely buries the latter when 
she passes into it, so that the moon can then be seen 
eclipsed from all places on the earth above whose 
horizon she happens to be at the moment. 

An eclipse of the moon is very interesting to watch, 
because of the curious reddish tint which the face 
of the moon usually assumes when she is within the 
earth's shadow. This is due to the refraction of light 
by our atmosphere around the edge of the globe ; and 
this light, being bent into the shadow, reaches the 
moon, and produces a partial illumination there. It 
follows that if we could be upon the moon during 
such an eclipse we should see the huge black globe 
of the earth completely covering the sun and sur- 
rounded with a brilliant ring of reddish light. At 
times when the atmosphere of the earth is choked 
with clouds, the moon almost disappears during an 
eclipse, because then the refraction is prevented by 
the clouds. 

The primary reason why there is not an eclipse of 
the sun at every new moon, and an eclipse of the moon 
at every full moon, is because the moon's orbit is in- 
clined to the plane of the ecliptic, and ordinarily she 
passes above or below the sun in the one case, and 
above or below the conical shadow of the earth in the 
other case. The greatest number of eclipses that can 
occur in a year is seven, five of the sun and two of 
the moon ; the least number is two, both of the sun. 
On the average four or five eclipses occur every year, 
more of the sun than of the moon, but, as already 


explained, eclipses of the sun are visible from only 
very limited areas on the earth, and the path of the 
shadow seldom falls in a convenient place for ob- 
servation. Some solar eclipses are annular i. e., 
they occur at times when the moon is in the more 
distant part of her orbit, and the point of her shadow 
falls short of the earth. Then a bright rim of the 
solar disk appears surrounding the black globe of the 
moon. Total eclipses of the sun appear as partial 
eclipses to those who are situated within about two 
thousand miles of the edge of the moon's shadow. 
So, too, the moon may be partially eclipsed by pass- 
ing through the edge of the earth's shadow. 
^Eclipses have played an astonishing part in history. 
The total obscuration of the sun in broad day is a 
phenomenon especially calculated to awaken super- 
stitious terror, and accordingly we find that solar 
eclipses have generally been regarded with more fear 
and awe than lunar ones. It is not too much to say 
that, in the ages when the movements of the celestial 
bodies were not understood, the course of the history 
of nations was sometimes changed by the passage of 
the moon across the sun's face. Battles were stopped, 
the march of armies was arrested, treaties were dic- 
tated by the terror inspired by an unexpected eclipse. 
Since eclipses are phenomena that can be predicted 
with almost absolute exactitude centuries in advance, 
it is easy, from our knowledge of the moon's motion, 
to trace her course backward as well as forward, and 
thus eclipses occurring thousands of years ago, and 
recorded by the uncritical analysts of those times, 
have enabled modern astronomers to fix disputed 


dates in history. Herodotus records the fact that a 
battle between the Medes and Lydians was interrupted 
by an eclipse of the sun. Calculation shows that this 
eclipse must have occurred on May 28th in the year 
585 B.C. 

A curious point in the history of the celebrated 
Five Nations, occupying central New York at the 
time of the arrival of the white men, is connected with 
an eclipse. These Indians had a tradition that a 
great war between the Mohawks and the Senecas was 
averted by the interposition of Heaven. Some young 
Seneca warriors, bent on winning fame for them- 
selves, went, in a time of peace, into the land of the 
Mohawks and made captive a number of girls who 
were at work in the cornfields. The captives were 
taken to Canandaigua. Their arrival caused con- 
sternation among the Senecas, whose chiefs knew well 
the terrible vengeance that the Mohawks would exact. 
Still, the Senecas also were a proud people, and when 
swift runners arrived demanding a humiliating sub- 
mission, the Senecas responded with open defiance, 
and resolved to meet the Mohawks in battle. A host 
of Mohawk warriors, thirsting for vengeance, hurried 
on the forest trails to Canandaigua, and the hostile 
ranks were about to close in deadly contest when one 
of the Mohawk girls cried out: 

"See! the Great Spirit is angry!" 

She pointed to the sky, and, all eyes following hers, 
they saw the sun in heaven beginning to darken. 
Swiftly its light was withdrawn and night fell upon 
the lake and the forest. The warriors of both tribes 
dropped to their knees, and then an aged sachem of 


the Senecas called for the peace-pipe. As it passed 
from lip to lip, the darkness lightened, the sun 
slowly reappeared, and in a short time his smiling 
face was again bent down upon his red children. The 
captives were surrendered, reparation was made, and 
the Mohawks, with full quivers, marched back to 
their valley home. The late Professor Lewis Swift 
showed that a total eclipse of the sun was visible in 
central and western New York on June 28, 1451, and 
this fact has been regarded as affirming the historic 
accuracy of the Indian tradition, as well as fixing a 
date for the event. 

On the other hand, lunar eclipses sometimes caused 
great terror. Plutarch, in his Life of Nicias, has a 
curious story in point. When the Athenian army, 
baffled before Syracuse, was about to embark for 
home, there happened an eclipse of the moon, "at 
which," says Plutarch, "Nicias and all the rest were 
struck with a great panic, either through ignorance 
or superstition. As for an eclipse of the sun, which 
happens at the conjunction, even the common people 
had some idea of its being caused by the interposition 
*of the moon. But they could not easily form a con- 
ception by the interposition of what body the moon, 
when at the full,' should lose her light and assume 
such a variety of colors. They looked upon it, there- 
fore, as a strange and preternatural phenomenon, a 
sign by which the gods announced some great calam- 

The reader will observe that even in their terror the 
frightened soldiers did not fail to note the curious 
coloration of the eclipsed moon, due, as we now 


know, to the refraction of light by the earth's at- 

But eclipses were not universally considered by the 
ancients as miraculous events. Better instructed 
minds perceived that there was a regular recurrence 
of these phenomena, and that they were connected 
with the movements of the moon. Thales is said 
to have predicted the solar eclipse of 585 B.C., and 
Hipparchus ascertained the general law of the moon's 
motions. Even the Chaldeans knew that eclipses re- 
cur in a certain order during every successive period 
of eighteen years, and to this period was given the 
name Saros. 

The revolution of the moon naturally gave rise to 
the division of time into months. All would have 
been very simple if the moon's time of revolution 
had been an exact fraction of the year. Then every 
year would have had precisely twelve lunar months. 
But the time from one new moon to the next is about 
twenty-nine and a half days, and the problem that 
the calendar-makers had to solve was how to adjust 
this so as to give a fixed number of months to th^j 
year. This is not the place to enter into a discussion 
of the difficult subject of the settling of the calendar, 
which is dealt with in ordinary school-books of as- 
tronomy, but it may be remarked that as a result of 
the necessary adjustments new and full moons may 
occur at any time in the course of our present months. 
So the name month (undoubtedly derived from the 
same root as moon, just as the original idea of a 
month was suggested by the moon's period of rev- 
olution) no longer possesses more than a historic 


connection with the monthly traveller through the 

Another, and practically a much more important, 
relation of the moon to the earth is seen in the tides. 
Both the sun and the moon raise tides in the ocean, 
but those of the moon are much the higher, simply 
because she is so near. This is a technical subject 
beyond the intended scope of our book, but it is in- 
teresting to remember that but for the tides produced 
by the moon some of the most important harbors on 
the earth would be shut against deep-draught ships. 

Those who look at the new moon often see the 
whole face of her globe faintly illuminated, the bright 
crescent seeming to border it like a silver handle. 
Even some of the ancients recognized the fact that 
this light comes from the earth. At such times the 
earth hangs in the lunar sky as a round, gleaming ball 
of portentous size, many times larger than the full 
moon looks to us, and the faint illumination that we 
see on the part of the moon hidden from the sun is 
earth light. 

In her course through the zodiac for the moon fol- 
lows, practically, the same path as the planets she 
often passes over, or occults, stars, and occasionally 
planets. These phenomena are interesting to observe 
with the naked eye, if the star occulted happens to be 
a bright one. If the occultation occurs near the time 
of new moon, or first quarter, the star disappears be- 
hind the dark part of the moon as if it had been 
snuffed out. When the moon is crescent-shaped the 
star, just before its disappearance, often looks as if 
it were inside the horns of the moon, and this appear- 


ance is so deceptive that some people think that the 
moon really can carry a star in her arms. The month- 
ly progress of the moon through the zodiacal con- 
stellations, and her conjunctions with the planets and 
the first and second magnitude stars, or with clusters 
like the Pleiades and the Hyades, are among the most 
captivating sights that astronomy with the naked eye 
has to offer. 

The idea that the moon exercises an important in- 
fluence on the weather has no scientific foundation, 
all attempts to establish such an influence having 
failed. So, too, the supposed influence of the moon 
on the sap in trees, and on the growth of plants has 
no basis except that of a wide-spread popular belief. 


ACHERNAR, 38, 168. 

Achilles likened to Sirius, 42. 

Al Aaraaf, 147. 

Al Bali, 131. 

Albireo, 127. 

Al Chiba, 77. 

Alcor, 69. 

Alcyone, 23. 

Aldebaran, 8, n, 21, 22. 

Alderamin, 136. 

Alfirk, !36. 

Algenib/133, 153. 

Algieda, 122. 

Algol, 152. 

Alioth, 71. 

Al Jauzah, 36. 

Allen, Richard Hinckley, 17, 22, 
26, 28, 36, 38, 41, 46, 65, 71, 
73, 78, 80, 108, 163. 

Almaak, 141. 

Alphacca, 93. 

Alpha Centauri, 165. 

Alpha Draconis, 98. 

Alphard. 62. 

Alpheratz, 133, 141. 

Al Rischa, 139. 

Altair, 115. 

Amazon Star, the, 32. 

Andromeda, 3, 4. 141; mytholo- 
gy of, 142; telescopic objects, 


Antares, 8, n, 102, 104. 
Antinoiis, 115. 

Aquarius, 130; mythology of, 131. 
Aquila, 115; mythology of, 116; 

telescopic objects, 117. 
Ara, 1 66. . 

Aratus, 3. 

Arctic constellation, 2. 

Arcturus, 7, 90, 91. 

Argo Navis, 158. 

Ariadne's Crown, 94. 

Ariadne's Hair, 84. 

Aries, 148; mythology of, 148; 

telescopic objects, 150. 
Arion, legend of, 125. 
Atlas, 23, 28. 
Arthur's Wain, 70. 
Aselli, 57. 
Asterion, 85. 
Asterope, 23, 28. 
Astrasa, 80. 
Auriga, 18; mythology of, 19; 

telescopic objects, 20. 


Beehive, the, 60. 

Bellatrix, 32, 33. 

Belt, Orion's, 24, 31, 33. 

Benetnasch, 71. 

Berenice's Hair, 7. 

Betelgeuse, u, 30, 32. 

Bird, Great Storm, 78. 

Bird, the Red, 78. 

Bootes, 2, 89; mentioned by 

Homer, 89; mythology of, 92; 

telescopic objects, 92. 


Cancer, 57; mythology of, 60; 

telescopic objects, 61. 
Canes Venatici, 85. 
Canis Major, 42; mythology of, 

46; telescopic objects, 47. 



Canis Minor. 48; telescopic ob- 
jects, 50. 

Canopus, 46, 159, 161. 

Capella, n, 18. 

Caph, 146. 

Capricornus, 122; mythology of, 
123; telescopic objects, 124. 

Carlyle, Thomas, on Canopus, 
1 60. 

Cassiopeia, 145; seen at My- 
cenae, 3; telescopic objects, 


Castor, 50, 53. 
Celaeno, 28. 
Centaurus, 164. 
Cepheus, 135; mythology of, 

136; telescopic objects, 136. 
Cetus, 155; mythology of, 156; 

telescopic objects, 157. 
Chara, 85. 
Charioteer, the, 18. 
Charles's Wain, 69, 70. 
Chi Persei, 153. 
Coal Sack, the, 176. 
Colas, T. A., 34. 
Columoa, 41. 
Coma Berenices, 83; telescopic 

objects, 84. 
Constellations, seen from Mount 

Etna, 5; and the seasons, 6. 
Cor Caroli, 85. 
Cor Hydrae, 62. 
Corn Mother, the, 80. 
Corona Borealis, 93; mythology 

of, 94; telescopic objects, 94. 
Coronis, story of, 78. 
Corvus, 77. 
Cor Serpentis, 106. 
Crater 75. 
Cursa 38. 
Cygnus, 127; telescopic objects, 

129; star "61," 128. 
Cynosura, 96. 

DABIH, 122. 
Dancing Bears, the, 72. 
Delphinus, 124; telescopic ob- 
jects, 125. 
Delta Librae, 89. 

Deluge and the Pleiades, 27. 
Deneb, 127. 
Deneb Kaitos, 155. 
Denebola, 66. 
Diamond of Virgo, 79. 
Donati's comet and Arcturus, 91 . 
Draco, 98; mythology of, 100; 

telescopic objects, 101. 
Druids, cult of Pleiades, 27. 
Dubhe, 71. 

EAGLE of the winds, 115. 

Electra, 23, 28. 

El Nath, 1 8, 24. 

Equuleus, 125. 

Eridanus, 3 7 ; mythology of, 38; 
telescopic objects, 39; south- 
ern, 1 68. 

Erigone, 81. 

Eta Argus, 1 60. 

Euro pa, myth of, 25, 26. 

FRIGID MAIDEN, the, 79. 
Fomalhaut, 131. 

Garnet Star, Herschel's, 137. 
Gate of the Gods, 123. 
Gemma, 93. 
Gemini, 50; mythology of, 52; 

telescopic objects, 55. 
Golconda of the heavens, 30. 
Golden Age, the, 80. 
Golden Fleece, the, 100, 101. 
Golden Ox, the, 26. 
Gomeiza, 49. 
Great Dipper, the, 69. 
Great Square of Pegasus, 132. 
Greenwich of the sky, 138. 
Grus, 167. 

HARMONY in the heavens, 13. 

Head of Draco, 99. 

Head of Orion, 34. 

Helice, 72, 96. 

Hercules, 107; mythology of, 

1 08; telescopic objects, no; 

great cluster in, no; motion 

towards, 109. 



Hood, Dr. Thomas, 73. 
Hydra, 6, 61 ; mythology of, 62. 

JASON, 5, 100, 101. 

Job. reference to Pleiades, 23 ; to 
Arcturus, 90. 

Job's Coffin, 124. 

Jupiter, 216; various names of, 
216; astrology of, 216; dis- 
tance and appearance, 217; 
oppositions of, 217; moons of, 
218; Galileo's discoveries, 218; 
density of, 219; clouds on, 
219; habitability of, 219; 
Red Spot on, 220; gravity on, 


KARNAK, temple of, 100. 
Kern Baby, the, 80. 
Kochab, 95. 

LACERTA, 135. 

Laconian Key, the, 146. 

Landmarks, stars as, i. 

Lantern Feast and Pleiades, 27. 

Leo, 65; mvthology, 67; tele- 
scopic objects, 68. 

Leo Minor, 68. 

Lepus, 40. 

Lewis, Sir G. C., 23, 72. 

Libra, 87; mythology of, 88. 

Lilac stars, 84. 
; Little Dipper, the, 95. 

Lynx, 55. 

i Lyra, 118; mythology of, 120; 
telescopic objects, 120. 

i Magnitudes, stellar, 10. 
Magi, star of the, 84, 140. 
j Magpie Bridge, the, 116. 
Maia, 23. 
Manger, the 57. 

:Mars, 209; various names of, 
210; astrology of, 210; op- 
positions of, 21 1 ; gravity on, 
i 212; polar caps of, 212; at- 
mosphere of, 212; "canals" 
i on, 213;- irrigation of, 214; 

giants on, 215; moons of, 
2I S- 

Markab, 133. 

Mazzaroth, 44. 

Medusa, 4, 152. 

Megrez, 71. 

Menkalina, 18. 

Menkar, 155. 

Merak, 71. 

Mercury, 192; astrology of, 193; 
and naked eye, 195; transits 
of, 197; density of, 197; life on, 
198; rotation of, 199; tem- 
perature on, 200. 

Meridian, definition of, 16. 

Merope, 23, 28. 

Mesarthim, 150. 

Milk Dipper, the, 112. 

Milky Way. the, 171; Galileo on, 
172; shape of, 173; constella- 
tions, 174; details of, 175; 
stars near, 178; distance of, 
179; mythology of, 179. 

Mira (o Ceti), 156. 

Mirach, 141. 

Mirzam, 45. 

Mizar, 69. 

Monoceros, 48. 

Moon, the, fancies about man in, 
227; fancies about woman in, 
228; the hare in, 230; wor- 
ship of, 230; gender of 230; 
origin of, 232; eclipses, 234, et 
seq.\ phases of, 233; supersti- 
tions about eclipses, 237, 238; 
and the months, 239; and 
the tides, 240; earthlight on, 
240; occultations by, 240; and 
weather, 241 ; and plants, 241. 

Music of the Spheres, 191. 

NAMES of constellations, 3. 

Nebula, in Orion, 34; the Whirl- 
pool, 86: Dumb-bell, 126; An- 
dromeda, 142; the Ring, 120; 
the Key- hole, 161. 

Nebula;, Field of the, 82. 

Nimrod, 36. 

Northern Cross, 7, 127. 



North Star, the, 95. 

OCTANT, 161. 

Onondaga Indians and Pleiades, 

12, 26. 
Ophiuchus, 105; mythology of, 

105; telescopic objects, 106. 
Orihim6 (see Spinning Damsel), 

116, 181. 
Orion, 2, 3, 7, 30; origin of, 31; 

mythology of, 35; telescopic 

objects, 36. 

PEGASUS. 132; mythology of. 

133; telescopic objects, 135. 
Perseus, 3, 4, 143, 151; new 

star in, 152; telescopic ob- 
jects, 154. 
Phaed, 71. 
Phaet, 41. 
Phaeton, 39. 
Phoenice, 95. 
Phoenix, 167. 
Pisces. 138; mythology of, 139; 

telescopic objects, 140. 
Piscis Australis, 131. 
Planets, the, 186; how to find. 


Pleiad, the Lost, 23, 28. 
Pleiades, 21, 23; photographs of , 


Pleione, 28. 
Plough, the, 69. 
Pointers, the, 71. 
Polaris, j>5; and the slaves, 96. 
Pole, position of true, 146; 

southern, 161. 
Pollux, 50, 53. 
Praesepe, 57. 

Prince of the Zodiac, 149. 
Procyon, n, 48. 
Prosper Henry, n. 
Pyramid, the Great, 27, 99. 

Ras Alhague, 105. 
Regulus, 65. 
Rigel, 30, 32, 38. 
Ring Nebula, 120. 

Royal Stars, the, 66. 
Ruchbar, 146. 


Sadalsuud, 131. 

Sagitta, 117. 

Sagittarius, 112; star clusters in, 
112; mythology of, 113; tele- 
scopic objects, 114. 

St. Paul, 53. 

Saturn, 221; astrology of, 222; 
density of, 223; rings of, 
223; Galileo's discoveries, 224; 
habitability of, 224; possible 
knowledge of, at Nineveh, 224. 

Scheat, 131, 133. 

Schedar, 146. 

Scorpio, 102; mythology of, 103; 
telescopic objects, 104. 

Scutum Sobieskii, 114. 

Seiss, Rev. Joseph A., his "gos- 
pel mythology," 20, 29, 36, 
39, 40, 46, 54, 63, 67, 73, 76, 
78, 82, 89, 98, 101, 104, 109, 
117, 124, 131. 149, 154, 156. 

Septentriones, the, 71. 

Serpens, 1 05 ; mythology of , 106; 
telescopic objects, 106. 

Seven Little Indians, 70. 

Seven Stars, the, 71. 

Sextans. 74. 

Sickle, the, 65. 

Sirius, 3, 9, n, 42, 47, 88; size 
of, 44; crossed Milky Way, 43. 

Southern Cross, 2, 162. 

Spica, 7, ii, 78. 

Spinning Damsel, the, 1 1 6. 

Stars, as sentinels, i ; personal 
influence of, 2; and seasons, 
7; individuality of, 9; colors 
of, 1 1 ; grouping of, 1 1 ; har- 
monious effect of, 12. 

Sword of Orion, 34. 

TANABATA, festival of, 116. 
Taurus, 21; mythology of, 25; 

telescopic objects, 30. 
Taygeta, 23, 28. 
Tennyson on Pleiades, 24. 


Thor's Wagon, 73. 
Three Guides, the, 133. 
Thuban, 98. 
Toucan, 167. 
Triangle, the, 166. 
Triangulum, 150. 
Twins, the sailors' stars, 54. 
Tycho Brahe's star, 146. 


Ursa Major, 69; mythology of, 

72; telescopic objects, 74. 
Ursa Minor, 95; mythology of, 

97; telescopic objects, 98. 

"V," the letter, 21, 22. 
Vega, ii, 118, 119, 120. 
Venus, 201; astrology of, 203; 

Galileo's discoveries, 204; 

transits of, 205; habitability 

of, 206; atmosphere of, 206; 

temperature on, 206; surface 

features of, 207; appearance 

of earth from, 208; upright 

axis of, 209. 
Vindemiatrix, 80. 
Virgo, 7, 78; mythology, of 80; 

telescopic objects, 82. 
Vulpecula, 126. 

"W," the letter, 145. 
Water-bearer, the, 130. 
White Ox, the, 170. 
White Tiger, the, 26. 

"X" CLASS, Professor New- 
comb's, 159. 

Xavier de Maistre, remark about 
stars, 1 2 . 

ZODIAC, the, 138. 
Zodiacal Light, the, 182. 
Zubenelgenubi, 88. 
Zubeneschemali, 88. 




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